Archive for March, 2012

Link to PDF on msytery author, Denise Swanson
A product of the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

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Sjowall books at Lisle Library graphicAs we discussed during our March meeting on Roseanna, the first book in the series, the library is adding most of the books in this series to the current collection. Now on the New Mystery shelf (in series order) are:

  1. The Man Who Went Up in Smoke,
  2. The Man on the Balcony,
  3. The Laughing Policeman, &
  4. The Fire Engine That Disappeared

Click on a title to go to its record in the library catalog and place a hold!

This means that we now have 1-5 in the series, #9 in the series as a CD audiobook, and the final book, #10 in the regular mystery collection.
If there is strong interest in the rest of the series, we will add them as well. In the meantime, books 6-9 can be requested as interlibrary loans.

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Murder Among Friends’ overall reaction to this first book in the Martin Beck/Story of a Crime series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo was overwhelmingly positive! Members enjoyed the depth of detail both in the realistic depiction of the daily work of the Swedish police and in the authors’ tracking of the parts of Sweden that the investigation covered. One member even pulled out her maps to track where they were going to interview suspects, go to the crime scene, and follow the trail of the murderer back to Stockholm itself.  One member was so kind as to bring pictures of Lake Vattern and the actual passenger ship (Diana) which was the site of  the victim’s murder in the story! There were other handouts of places that were key to the novel, and that Patti will add to the upcoming MAF website. (She’s also hoping to get the link for the Diana etc. too!)

Another member particularly enjoyed the way the authors had the police first hunting down the Diana’s passengers, and then combing through the passengers’ travel pictures to find the killer. The way they painstakingly follow all the phases it takes to solve the crime adds to the realism and believability for the reader. A couple of members had some difficulty getting into the story initially, and one member had stopped reading it, due to the pacing and its focus on the daily activities that often did nothing to advance the story. In talking about how this deliberate approach was used by the authors to build the readers’ belief in the authenticity of how an investigation would run, all the members came to appreciate what the authors were trying to do, especially when the reader who had put it down was told how gripping the final resolution was in catching the killer.

A major point of discussion was just how differently the police in Sweden are shown to act – particularly with suspects and each other – than we see in American police procedurals. Their focus on needing to help the murderer with his problem, instead of “getting the bad guy” and punishing him for the crime itself. We also talked about how the time frame of the 1960s is also reflected in the attitudes and issues of the characters. (In the introduction, Wallander author Henning Mankell even points out how the authors even place a Vietnamese tourist on the shoreline, probably in acknowledgement of the Vietnam War and the raising of the western world’s consciousness of that part of the world.)

Raising consciousness is the overall aim that Sjowall and Wahloo had in writing this series. They saw the crime novel as a perfect vehicle for making social commentary that expressed their concerns for the increasingly capitalistic pitfalls that Sweden was starting to encounter, along with the rest of the world. The books were very deliberately thought out to be a 10 book series they thought of as “The Story of a Crime”. One article that was shared about how they came to write the series mentioned that they had been talking about doing a series of crime novels , and one day they observed a dark-haired woman leaning on the rail of a passing passenger boat and Maj said to Per “What if we killed her?”. The rest is history, and the influence of it on other mystery writers has been powerful.

In sharing background about the authors we also mentioned that the authors had met, and courted, by writing pieces, articles, etc. and leaving them for each other. This was echoed in the way they wrote the Martin Beck stories. They would each write one chapter, and the next night swap them and edit them. We felt that along with the plot and themes that the books reflect the two of them as soul mates as well. We rounded out the evening with a special Swedish “Fish” cake that was “For Maj and Per” — in the colors of the Swedish Flag.  😉

"Swedish Fish" Cake  Swedish "Fish" Cake with copy of "Roseanna" Swedish "Fish" cake - side view

The Author Docket on Maj and Per will be coming here soon!

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To Murder Among Friendsbrave new WordPress World! What you will see here is only just the start. The first thing, is that this is the group’s blog. If you are new to the term, WordPress itself has a very nice explanation of what blogs and blogging are all about.

The first thing you will notice is that the main place for you to make comments are after the posts you see on this side of the site’s page. Please do feel free to add your comments. Comments that are appropriate and content-related are appreciated.

We also have a few tabs in addition to the Home and About tabs that are labeled:  MAF 2012 Book List, and Mystery Events. The MAF 2012 Book List is where you’ll find our reading selections for this year. Right now it is a static list, but there will be links to the library’s catalog for the book titles and to the authors’ web sites on the author names in the near future. Mystery Events has an ongoing list and links to  mystery conferences, area author appearances, and other mystery-related activities that may be of interest to group members. There are only a couple of things posted there at the moment — but it will definitely be growing!

The right-side column of the site has all kinds of cool links that have been grouped together for your convenience — such as the box called “Lisle Library’s Discussion Groups” so you can check out all five of the library’s book groups, as well as the film discussion group, Just Between Frames.

The final thing to note here is that this is a brand-new site, so there’s an opportunity here to add in content we may not have had before — or arrange it in a different way, so please send your thought on this along as well!

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