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The Cop Killer    by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo order for
Cop Killer
by Maj Sjowall
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2010 (1975)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Cop Killer is the ninth of ten in the outstanding Swedish police procedural series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. Unfortunately #10 is the last of the series because of Wahloo's death in the 70s. Michael Onadaatie calls the series 'The first great series of police thrillers.'

The action takes place in Sweden with Chief of the National Homicide Squad Martin Beck in charge. Beck and his fellow investigators take a dim view of police tactics, feeling they are poorly trained, woefully bungling, inadequate, and that their superiors are out more to further a career than to bring justice to their part of the world.

A woman is murdered and buried in a swamp. There are two main suspects her closest neighbor and her ex-husband. Both with motives. It takes Beck and his compatriots to the countryside to discover who is the culprit and still retain jurisdiction over the case. The higher-ups not only want the glory for solving the case, but bungle through everything and are actually a hindrance.

Sjowall and Wahloo are obviously no proponents of the Swedish way of governing and policing their country. Hopefully things have changed since this book was written in 1975.

The Martin Beck series is well worth a read. Start at the first Roseanna - and work your way to the end. Or pick up any one of the ten and enjoy it as a stand-alone. These books are thrillers without any doubt, and feature characters with whom the reader can identify. They are everyday people, with similar whims and wishes to the rest of us, but who police their patch and do it well.

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