The Martin Beck novels

So far this month I’ve re-read from my shelves three Swedish police procedurals by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö. They wrote ten altogether and they are so good I’ve ordered the other seven! I’ll space them out so that I don’t get tired of them.

The main character in all the novels is Martin Beck and we very much enjoyed the TV series Beck which was based on the novels. Interestingly, though Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö plotted and researched the stories together, they wrote alternate chapters.

In the meantime I’ve just finished reading The Offing, by Benjamin Myers. It’s set around the lovely, Yorkshire fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay. An old man looks back to 1946 when, as a 16-year-old boy, he set off for an adventure and stumbles across an eccentric, older woman. A really lovely read. I’ll certainly look out for other novels by the same author.

I’m currently reading A Dry White Season, by André Brink. Set in apartheid South Africa, this is a step outside my usual fiction comfort zone and, so far so good.

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Subtitled ‘Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness’, this wonderful book describes the truly shocking level of imprisonment in the USA, brought about by the ‘war on drugs’, and of how African-Americans have been most affected. It’s an eye-opening analysis and shatters any illusions that America has a healthy political or judicial system. Is it any wonder that someone like Trump can get elected! I’ve had my eyes opened. It’s a stunning read and highly recommended.

A full review can be found in this Guardian article.

This short article “19 Actual Statistics About America’s Prison System” by Laura Dimon succinctly shows how shocking it is.

The Tiger – John Vaillant

What a magnificent read The Tiger by John Vaillant is.

A long, detailed examination of everything to do with tigers in their natural habitat. But more than that it’s an investigation of tiger killings, the communities affected, life in the Soviet Union and animal conservation.

There’s so much in this book. I’ll probably read it again in future years. A great read.

Face-Time – Erik Tarloff

What a terrific novel this is – I raced through it in a couple of days.
A first novel, written 20 years ago, it’s the story of a US president’s extra-marital affair involving a young couple working in the White House. It’s about power rather than politics and is an easy, well-written tale. Fabulous.
I’m on the lookout for his two later novels – I think I’ve tracked down one of them.

In Extremis – Tim Parks

In Extremis by Tim Parks is a wonderful novel. Centred around a dying mother and a son’s angst, it’s very, very funny.

My mum died just 3 months ago and the son’s indecision, his relationships with his mother and family, and dealing with death and funerals clearly resonated with me.

Religion and anal massage are also covered! A book to be read again.

The Prophet – Michael Koryta

The Prophet, by Michael Koryta, is a terrific thriller / crime novel. Although centred around American football, (I know nothing of this strange sport), it’s a gripping tale of brotherly guilt which also made me want to try to understand the game. It’s a well written and plotted story and highly recommended. Some might find the football details a bit annoying – I didn’t. I’ve noted Michael Koryta as an author worth seeking out for  his other novels.

Alongside Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, this has been a promising start to March’s reading.