Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Man Who Went up in Smoke - post II

With two men who have attempted to kill Beck in custody the case starts to unravel. The German travel agents turn out to be part of a narcotics smuggling ring that used the missing Swedish journalist Alf Matssson as their man to take the drugs from Eastern Europe into Sweden.

The story of just why the missing journalist was up to becomes clear, as does the involvement of the two men and the girl who tried to seduce Beck – all part of the same ring. With no sign of the missing hack but at least some portion of the case clear Beck heads back to Sweden.

Once there it happens so quickly but he heads for a suburban police station to hear about the case of the missing journalist and a friend that erupted into violence and a police call. The friend tells Beck that the hack became incredibly lewd once drunk and said things about his wife that were inappropriate.

With that picture of drunken goading Beck heads back to Stockholm and manages to piece together the final pieces of the jigsaw. The path he had been on with trips to Budapest and ruined holidays had been useful but completely in the wrong direction.

“’I suppose this means that Matsson has left Hungary.’
‘No.’ said Martin Beck. ‘He’s never been there at all.’”


The ending is part logical deduction and part riding the luck of intuition and it comes with a sense almost of anti-climax at the ending with Beck coming down from the high of solving the murder by heading back to the mundane and joining his family on holiday. Without giving anything away the end for Matsson does have a clear reference to the title, which all along pointed in another direction.

This is a great read but just like the departure Mankell makes from Swedish soil in the setting of his second book in the Wallander series The Dogs of Riga this does lose some of the impact Roseanna had. That is inevitable when it is a police procedural thriller and in a foreign country the procedures of the police remain behind closed doors.

A review will come soon…

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