The worst of it was that, deep down within himself, he knew that he had not been guided by any kind of impulse at all. It was just his policeman’s soul—or whatever it might be called—that had started to function. It was the same instinct that made Kollberg sacrifice his time off—a kind of occupational disease that forced him to take on all assignments and do his best to solve them.
The Man Who Went Up In Smoke begins with Inspector Martin Beck taking a well-deserved vacation with his family. Of course, the reader knows ahead of Beck that with twenty-nine chapters to go, he can kiss his vacation goodbye. Beck’s superiors call him back to the office and then send him to Hungary to search for a missing journalist named Alf Matsson. After initally being followed and verbally roughed up by the local police, he gains their respect as he searches the criminal underbelly of their country. Eventually his search makes him wonder if Matsson ever entered Hungary.
The Martin Beck stories, written with authentic detail, are known for changing the rules of police procedurals. Maybe that's true, but, for me, the joy of reading this novel was the way in which the lead character is drawn. Like Marlowe or Archer, Beck is a complex character that I enjoyed spending time with and find myself wanting to learn more.
There are only ten books which means I will probably take my time reading them over the next several years. For most of you, this series is probably far from forgotten and now I can say the same.
After I finished reading this over the holidays, I noticed Sarah Weinman at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind was reading this book also. For her take on it, check out her post.
Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Patti Abbott's site.