The next time someone, in questioning U.S. capitalism, mentions Sweden as the ideal society, just have them read the Martin Beck series of detective novels by Maj Sjöwall [ht: sw] and Per Wahlöö.
Their aim was something more subversive than what had gone before. “We wanted to describe society from our left point of view. Per had written political books, but they’d only sold 300 copies. We realised that people read crime and through the stories we could show the reader that under the official image of welfare-state Sweden there was another layer of poverty, criminality and brutality. We wanted to show where Sweden was heading: towards a capitalistic, cold and inhuman society, where the rich got richer, the poor got poorer.” They planned 10 books and 10 books only. The subtitle would be “The story of a crime” – the crime being society’s abandonment of the working classes. The first plot came to them on a canal trip from Stockholm to Gothenburg. “There was an American woman on the boat, beautiful, with dark hair, always standing alone. I caught Per looking at her. ‘Why don’t we start the book by killing this woman?’ I said.”