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~DOWNLOAD ⚖ The Fire Engine That Disappeared ♶ Gunvald Larsson sits carefully observing the dingy Stockholm apartment of a man under police surveillance He looks at his watch nine minutes past eleven in the evening He yawns, slapping his arms to keep warm At the same moment the house explodes, killing at least three people Chief Inspector Martin Beck and his men don t suspect arson or murder until they discover a peculiar circumstance and a link is established between the explosion and a suicide committed that same day, in which the dead man left a note consisting of just two words Martin Beck
The man lying dead on the tidily made bed had taken off his jacket and tie and hung them over the chair by the doorI love that opening line It has a kind of beautiful, banal poetry to it, and it s the perfect beginning for The Fire Engine That Disappeared a book where violent crime and complicated mystery are forever subsumed by the commonplace as the investigating officers try to solve a baffling crime whilst getting on with their lives Just look at the events of the first three chaptThe man lying dead on the tidily made bed had taken off his jacket and tie and hung them over the chair by the doorI love that opening line It has a kind of beautiful, banal poetry to it, and it s the perfect beginning for The Fire Engine That Disappeared a book where violent crime and complicated mystery are forever subsumed by the commonplace as the investigating officers try to solve a baffling crime whilst getting on with their lives Just look at the events of the first three chapters Chapter One man s body is found in apartment.Chapter Two Martin Beck visits his aged mother.Chapter Three a house explodes killing three and imperilling nearly a dozen others.The fact that in between those incidents which are the butter and bread of any crime novel, we have that quiet little visit sets the tone for the book as much as the opening line does It s a crime novel that will be full of dramatic turns and unexpected events, but one that will not be consumed by it This is not a story of a tense cat and mouse between good guy and bad guy, where nothing else matters right until the improbable melodramatic ending instead it s a story about policemen with ordinary lives and everyday concerns and how they deal with them whilst also dealing with inexplicable and violent death It s a police procedural in the absolute best sense The cover has MARTIN BECK written on it in huge letters much bigger than the title actually , but this is the most un Martin Beck novel I ve read in the series Rather than the star, he is a supporting character amongst supporting characters It s a perfect ensemble with each of the officer taking their turn in working towards the solution, whilst the various antagonisms and back biting between them spills out, but in a way that adds low level drama rather than soap opera And as befits any good police procedural and I think this is a great police procedural the ending isn t an over the top twist and is instead built to gradually, efficiently and with due amount of well earned tension.Written in 1969, the crime of course isn t the only dramatic event that s hitting these policemen s lives In the background we have anti Vietnam protects, drugs and the growing view of police as the unloved bully boys of authority Of course this is a book with cops as heroes, and yet it doesn t dismiss these protestors instead the range of responses from the characters makes the book feel genuine and true and even sympathetic from Martin Beck s baffled inability to tell The Beatles from The Stones to plodding detective M nsson taking up the offer from an artist he locates to have sex with her to help her relax before questioning to young Skacke s comic attempts to fit into a hip nightclub he s staking out There s bathos, pathos and just plain horniness, and clearly rather than condemning thisdisrespectful world, these men are just trying to find their places within it.A crime novel that tries to bethan a crime novel, and in being so genuine, human and torn from life absolutely succeeds Brilliant Another one of the top books of the series yes, it is crowded at that particular top This one continues to develop the characters and the mystery is a great one Just the right amount of the happenings are due to random chance to give that unique feeling of reality. Another smashing book in the Martin Beck series In this one a crook is found dead after a house fire A tragic accident Of course not there are nefarious goings on.A locked room mystery with several twists As ever the charm is in the simple, Spartan prose, with not a word wasted Beck is a peripheral figure in this one, as the ensemble takes up the case with gusto.We have the usual light touch, gentle humour and some right on social commentary Worth a read. She looked appraisingly at him and thought that her suntan must look fine against her white dress This was a real man, she could see that at once Big and strong and blunt Perhaps a little brutal too nice Who are you she said, with interest Police My name is Larsson Nominally the series is about Martin Beck, but with every new book it becomes evident that the focus is on teamwork and guesswork, not on the brilliant Sherlock Holmes revelations of some brainiac detective Coincidences aShe looked appraisingly at him and thought that her suntan must look fine against her white dress This was a real man, she could see that at once Big and strong and blunt Perhaps a little brutal too nice Who are you she said, with interest Police My name is Larsson Nominally the series is about Martin Beck, but with every new book it becomes evident that the focus is on teamwork and guesswork, not on the brilliant Sherlock Holmes revelations of some brainiac detective Coincidences and accidents play as big a role in the solution to the crime as intuition and deductions This is where the title of this fifth novel comes from and why a little kid losing his brand new red toy of a fire engine can hold the key to the unravelling of a misterious fire in Stockholm.Martin Beck does almost nothing for the whole novel, he just sits in a corner with an arm resting on a file cabinet and listens to the brainstorming sessions of his team His best scenes are outside the office visiting his mother in a retirement home, playing truant on the weekends from his family, dealing with his teenage kids, being his usual depressive, hypochondriac self The primetime is left open for Gunvald Larsson to play the hero in an excellent opening sequence where the gruff, fussy dresser reacts with speed and cold blood to a house going out in flames and pulls eight people out of the pyre He s not an easy man to like, he goes out of his way to make people uncomfortable and an angry look from him sends little, kind old ladies running back into their appartments and barricading the doors He thinks witnesses should be properly scared in order to give credible evidence, and he s a bit old school about using his fists on ocassion But he s the real deal, the guy you want on your side if you are in a rough spot, the guy for whom police work is not a day job, it s doing what s right and doing it wellThe doctor told him to take it easy and put him off work for ten days, until Monday, the twenty fifth Half an hour later, he stepped out into the bitter wind outside the the front entrance of South Hospital, flagged down a taxi and headed straight for the police station of Kungsholmen On a side note, he likes to read Sax Rohmer and to wear expensive clothes, and he has a deadpan delivery of one liners that makes you wonder for pages did he cracked a joke or not A scene with a bunch of flowers from Ronn comes to mind.What I said about him applies to most of the rest of the team They are none very pleasant people Beck is relentlessly downbeatOne has to save up the cheerful subjects, Melander is arrogant about his elephantine memory and spends hours in the toilet, Hammar the Boss is only thinking about his retirement while Kollander is bullying the rookie something fierce sends him on pointless missions in order to strenghten his leg muscles and has a foul temper when he s not sneaking home for a quickie with the wifie during lunch break Benny Skacke the rookie dreams of one day becoming the Chief Comissioner while trying to balance his love life with his frequent overtime hours Later on there s another quirky character from the Malmo police force Per Mansson, who is both a married man and a bachelor I ll let you discover how it is possible only in Sweden I m talkingabout the people than about the plot, both because the plot wasn t as impressive or special as in previous books, and because the people are the main attraction in the series for me The authors did once again a great job in presenting them as fallible human beings, bored and short tempered at the crawling pace of the investigation, at the lack of leads, at the lousy weather and at their problematic family lives They are also shown as relentless, dedicated, quick thinking and selfless when dealing with emergencies.Kollberg puts it very well at one timeThere are lots of good cops around Stupid guys who are good cops Inflexible, limited, tough, self satisfied types who are all good cops It would be better if there were a fewgood guys who were cops What makes this book special for me within the series, is how much fun I had reading it The subject is grim, the weather is abominable, the people all morose, the political landscape all messed up yet I think there arejokes here than in the rest of the previous books put together The blackest, most dry type of humour, but all the better for coming out of the left field, from people with inflexible upper lips and piercing stares from Gunnart LarssonHe was wondering how anyone could ever find a missing murderer when one could not even get hold of a policeman from BeckSkacke stood six feet away from Beck, strongly resembling a dog sitting up and begging for a sugar lump from Skacke, in a jealous moodHe grew so agitated at the thought of Monica with that smug slob that he had to drink two glasses of milk to calm himself down before calling her up again Beck and Kollberg on pop music in the 60 sLoud pop music was booming through her closed door The Beatles, said Martin Beck It s a miracle her ears don t drop off The Rolling Stones, said Kollberg.Martin Beck looked at him in surprise How can you tell the difference Oh, there s a great difference, said Kollberg, starting down the stairs from Larsson againGunvald Larsson was putting on his boots and sports jacket and glancing sourly at Ronn s machine knitted woolen sweater, which was red and blue and green and awful and had elks on the front from LennartHe s cunning and ruthless, but probably not all that bright And that s where where our chance lies.A little later he added maliciously Of course, most policemen are not that bright either, now, so in that respect the odds are even from HammarThis is getting crazier and crazier It would be a good thing for once if you could find someone involved in this case who is alive There s a running gag in the series, dating back to the second book I think, about a couple of inept highway patrol cops Kristianssen and Kvant, the Keystone duo, who manage to mess up the evidence in every case that comes on Beck deskBoth were from Skane, blue eyed, broad shouldered and nearly six feet tall The moment Gunvald Larsson s eyes fell on them, they stiffened and actually did look very much like a couple of concrete statues representing two radio policemen in leather tunics with shoulder straps and polished buttons and a last one I promise from a brainstorming sessionWe also know that they both travelled first class, that they sat in the smoking salon and drank beer and ate two sandwiches containing cold beef and cheese, which agrees with the little that remains of the contents of s stomach That s obviously what he died of, mumbled Kollberg Swedish Railway sandwiches.Hammar threw him a murderous look With this last quote I was trying to segue into the social commentary part of the novel Yes, it is there, in the peddling of drugs to school children, in the gang of cars thiefs, in the young girls from the countryside selling their bodies, in the demonstrations about the Vietnam War, and in the shortcomings of the social services But Sjowall and Wahloo are skillful about the presentation, never preachy or bitter, often with the same dry humor approach that hasto to do with their disillusionment with the leftist movement than with any proselityzing efforts They don t shy away from the issues, but they are not beating the drums of revolution, appearing to metired than anything elseIn Eupatoria on the Black Sea, Mansson was looking dully at the dove grey Potemkin horizon and wondering how they had been able to achieve socialism and manage their five year plan in three years in a country where it was 104 degrees in the shade and they did not have grape juice Note I live close to the Black Sea, and I can tell you, grapes are for wine and tzuica, not for soft drinks The Laughing Policeman remains my favorite Martin Beck book so far, but this sequel was no slouch, and it was a lotentertaining than I expected Will surely check out the rest of the series Arriving at the 5th installment out of the 10 book series to feature Martin Beck, the action begins on a freezing night police as Detective Gunvald Larsson goes to check on Officer Zachrisson, who is maintaining a surveillance on an apartment house Offering a bit of a respite to the near frozen officer, Larsson takes over for a bit, and while he s struggling to stay warm, things unexpectedly heat up when the house explodes While in a bit of a state of shock, Larsson eventually rescues several Arriving at the 5th installment out of the 10 book series to feature Martin Beck, the action begins on a freezing night police as Detective Gunvald Larsson goes to check on Officer Zachrisson, who is maintaining a surveillance on an apartment house Offering a bit of a respite to the near frozen officer, Larsson takes over for a bit, and while he s struggling to stay warm, things unexpectedly heat up when the house explodes While in a bit of a state of shock, Larsson eventually rescues several people from the house, but sustains a head injury and is put into the hospital As it turns out, the man the police were watching wasn t among the survivors But how did the fire start What caused the explosion Was this a suicide attempt, terrorism or just an accident And where was the fire engine that had been sent for In the meantime, a man who committed suicide is discovered in his apartment, leaving no note, just a piece of paper with the name Martin Beck written on it This time Martin Beck isn t exactly in the forefront, but the mystery is challenging, and watching the solution unravel is intriguing.The Fire Engine that Disappeared is yet another sterling work in this series The character development continues to grow stronger with each installment, so that by this book if you re reading them in order you get the feeling that you re checking in once again on what your old friends are up to What I find so amazing about this series is that each of these books is rather short, but there s a full story, great characterization, and an interesting look at the authors world view in each one without any superfluous detail that often bogs down a police procedural and makes you want to skim to get back to the meat of the investigation I m sitting here looking at my copy of Nesbo s The Leopard, coming in at 611 pages I mean, what a contrast But back to the Beck series there s also enough witty humor so that the reader will often walk away with a chuckle in the midst of a lot of serious business This book is no exception, especially when Wahloo and Sjowall bring in Inspector Mansson, who is a complete contrast to Beck.You could read this book as a standalone, but it will definitely serve you better to read the entire series because of the social political components that the authors are trying to highlight and because the characters becomefamiliar with each book Highly recommended, not to just to readers of Scandinavian crime fiction, but to crime fiction readers in general And for Pete s sake, don t expect Stieg Larsson here, and don t complain when you don t get him With this series, the authors have created some of the best crime fiction I ve ever read This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Bettie s Books Bettie s Books A man commits suicide in a Stockholm apartment He leaves behind a cryptic note with just two words Martin Beck Later, on the night of that same day another apartment building in Stockholm explodes in flames while the police are watching the building, because of a low level criminal who lives there Eleven people live in the building and had it not been for the policeman who was watching at the moment of the explosion, Gunvald Larsson, they would likely all have died Through his heroic effor A man commits suicide in a Stockholm apartment He leaves behind a cryptic note with just two words Martin Beck Later, on the night of that same day another apartment building in Stockholm explodes in flames while the police are watching the building, because of a low level criminal who lives there Eleven people live in the building and had it not been for the policeman who was watching at the moment of the explosion, Gunvald Larsson, they would likely all have died Through his heroic efforts, eight of the people escaped, although one later died One resident, a teenage girl, was trapped and burned in the attic apartment and the man in the apartment where the fire started also died It turned out that that man was the criminal whom the police had been watching and that an incendiary device had been placed in the man s mattress However, complicating matters, it seems that the man was dead before the fire.Martin Beck and his squad at first assume that the fire was an accident due to a gas leak, but once the incendiary device is discovered, they reluctantly accept the inevitable and commence the investigation.The investigation proceeds at a snail s pace The police search for weeks for their main suspect, an associate of the criminal who died in the fire, but no one has seen him since before the fire It is suspected that he has gone abroad, but there are no clues to where or why.Finally, a connection is found between the man who committed suicide and left his strange note and the criminal who died in the fire But no one, including Martin Beck, can quite figure out what it all means.Then another body is found by two boys who are fishing They see an old car under the surface of the water When the car is brought up, there is a long dead body in it Is this death somehow related to the others which the police are investigating This is the fifth book in the Martin Beck series the halfway point of the ten book series After I recently finished the fourth book in the series, The Laughing Policeman, I realized that I wasn t quite ready to give up the company of this group of characters and so I plunged ahead to read The Fire Engine That Disappeared I m glad I did, because I got to know several of the characters considerably better.Martin Beck, now Chief Inspector, continues to be as much of a sad sack as ever His home life is abominable In this book, his teenage daughter is making plans to move out of the home and one night she asks her father, Why don t you move out, too Foreshadowing, perhaps Beck s best friend, if that he can be called, is Lennart Kollberg He is a sensualist His main joys in life are sex and food He has a happy home life with his wife and child He is sarcastic and rude to his colleagues, frequently expressing the opinion that they are all idiots.One of the main targets of Kollberg s vitriol is Gunvald Larsson, who gets to be a hero in this book He is the black sheep of a very rich family He, like Kollberg, is lacking in interpersonal skills, but even though he can be boorish and tactless, he is actually a competent detective.Larsson s only real friend on the squad is Einar Ronn, a calm and peaceful individual, who is also a hard working and efficient detective Even though Larsson is just as rude to him on the job as he is to everyone else, they are actually good friends.Fredrik Melander is a detective with a flawless memory and a knack for always being in the restroom whenever anyone is looking for him He seems to have no temper at all, always maintaining an even keel.In this book, also, we get introduced to Benny Skacke, a young detective, with all the flaws of the young and inexperienced.There s one other detective of note here Per Mansson is not from Stockholm He s actually from Malmo, but he turns up repeatedly in Martin Beck s cases, and this time he provides the clue which eventually helps to break the case.This is an interesting group of men, none of whom have very attractive personalities, with the possible exception of Mansson and Ronn They are a prickly lot who don t really like each other very much, and yet they are capable of working together efficiently when circumstances demand it One thing they all seem to have in common is dogged determination Even when there seem to be no clues, they keep following their procedures, working the case, and somehow always reaching a conclusion And we lucky readers get to follow them step by step What a fabulous title this one has, conjuring images of a ghostlike fire engine speeding in the dark, its sirens blazing, the blue and red flashing lights reflected off of the wet tarmac suddenly no longer illuminating the night A huge mystery is on our hands this time Mr Beck.This is part five of the ten book sequence of The Story of a Crime and it is as fascinating and intriguing as ever Not so much for the mystery at the heart of this one but the police procedural nature of it all, the grow What a fabulous title this one has, conjuring images of a ghostlike fire engine speeding in the dark, its sirens blazing, the blue and red flashing lights reflected off of the wet tarmac suddenly no longer illuminating the night A huge mystery is on our hands this time Mr Beck.This is part five of the ten book sequence of The Story of a Crime and it is as fascinating and intriguing as ever Not so much for the mystery at the heart of this one but the police procedural nature of it all, the growing insight in to the lives of the many protagonists and the statement on Swedish society at the time.A man kills himself, Martin Beck s name is found written in his apartment, later that same night a house inhabited by a suspect in a car theft ring explodes in a ball of flames Gunvald Larsson saves many lives and an investigation as labyrinthine as any Sjowall Wahloo have concocted to date ensues.This is far from an ideal starting place for this series for those of you considering jumping in, it is a very deliberate exploration of characters and situations already established in which the crime is backgrounded and not even particularly interesting as far as the series has gone to date I very much doubt whether you would take as much pleasure in this as veterans of the sequence.The characters are what make this one, Martin Beck may have his name on the series but oncehe is a peripheral figure with his own domestic problems keeping him busy The evolution of this character throughout the series is a major statement on the direction of Swedish society and as such he deserves to be the most famous of the group of individuals investigating murder in Stockholm Beck aside we are treated to Gunvald Larsson as hero of the press, Kollberg not taking an interest in anything, a new recruit Skacke, a second appearance from Mansson of Malmo, Ronninterested in spending time with his family than thinking about murder and a chief of department with his eyes firmly on retirement No wonder this case isn t solved in the space of an episode of CSI.As enjoyable as these characters are and as fascinating I find their slow and methodical nature of crime solving, this book does seem to suffer from missing that central core of exciting mystery that the other books in the series contain.Part 1 RoseannaPart 2 The Man Who Went Up In SmokePart 3 The Man On The BalconyPart 4 The Laughing Policeman From BBC radio 4 Saturday Drama The apartment of a suspect being staked out by Gunvald Larsson explodes, killing three people Arson and murder isn t at first suspected much to Larsson s fury but when it becomes clear that the fire was started on purpose, the case hinges on the needle in a haystack chance of finding a man who fits an impossibly vague description who was somewhere in the area around the time of the fire.