Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Terrorists: Review

The Terrorists (1975) by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö is the last book to feature Martin Beck who has been promoted to Chief of the National Murder Squad--much to his chagrin since the new post will entail a great deal of desk work and far less time in the field. But he gets at least one more chance for action when he (and his usual team) are detailed to provide protection for an unpopular American Senator in Sweden on a state visit. Terrorists plant a bomb along the route the Senator will be taking (bet you didn't see that coming, given the title of the book!), but fortunately the timing is off and Beck & company are able to avoid any casualities. With time in between for side-stories involving a woman accused of a bank robbery she wasn't trying to commit and the murder of a pornographic film producer, Beck, Ronn, and Larsson manage to quickly trace two of the terrorists. But split-second timing will be needed for them to take the last two alive without having an entire apartment building blown up--with them in it.

The strength of this final entry is in the characters and the way Sjöwall and Wahlöö portray their interactions and relationships to one another. Beck has had to resign himself to the fact that Kollberg, his friend and, in many ways, right-hand man through much of the series, has resigned from the force. He finally admits that he has grown to like working with Larsson. It was interesting to watch Beck learn to rely more heavily on other members of his team--recognizing the strengths that each has. Less appealing to me was the terrorism theme. As Sjöwall and Wahlöö were wont to do, they use the theme to highlight societal ills and governmental flaws but I found the plot very slow-going and heavy-handed this time around. This book more than any of the others was a slog for me and I was sorry to have the series end on a disappointing (to me) note. Others have found this to be a very strong your mileage may vary. ★★ and a very weak 1/2.

[finished 8/30/18]

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