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The Man on the Balcony: A Martin Beck Police Mystery    by Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall order for
Man on the Balcony
by Per Wahloo
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2009 (1969)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

A woman on a balcony in Stockholm calls the police to complain of a man standing on his balcony for an inordinate period of time. Her call comes into headquarters at the time of the discovery of several little girls' bodies they were murdered.

The Man on the Balcony by the husband and wife team of Maj Sjowall and Peter Wahloo (and translated from the Swedish by Alan Blair) takes the reader through the workings of the police investigation as they try to solve the murders and catch the person responsible before he can strike again. The novel relies on conversations between the police officers themselves and their interrogations of suspects. Without realizing it, this reader became riveted to the dialogue as the officers revealed themselves as people with hard jobs, who also had a life away from the precinct.

What's even more interesting is that this novel was written before the modern day appearance of the computer and cell phones and all the other electronic gadgets that supposedly make the policeman's lot easier. What it comes down to is good old police work that involves pounding on pavements and doors and the odd tip or two that really are relevant.

The Man on the Balcony is mesmerizing, making it very hard to put down. Even though there is little descriptive content of place, it is easy to envision the work area and the parks involved in the murders. This one is good reading.

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