For those here who take an interest in the Scandinavian sweep among crime novels, Sarah Weinman has a link in today's "Smatterings" to an interview with Maj Wahloo (who knew she was still alive!) where she explains the origin of the Martin Beck novels and their relationship with, say Mankell's or McBain's.
The Sjowall-Wahloo novels are superb and clearly responsible for subsequent excellent police procedurals not only in Scandinavian countries, but also in Great Britain..

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Thanks for the info. Scandinavian crime fiction is pretty hot right now...and I don't think global warming has anything to do with it.
I've been meaning to read some Sjowall-Wahloo books since I saw The Laughing Policeman with Walter Matthau and Bruce Dern, probably the most underrated police procedural movie of the 1970s.

Maybe when I have some room on my "to read" shelf I'll pop down to Amazon and see what's there.
I've read all but a couple of the books, and they're all at least very good, and some are excellent. The one's I haven't got are in print in England but shipping is hefty.
I like Mankell, except when he digresses to African issues. Larsson struck me as somewhat slow and wordy, particularly on the financial journalism topics.
Wallander/Mankell can be pretty dour Angela, which is a little of a continuing trait in many Scandanavian (esp Swedish) crime novels - the protagonists often aren't particularly heroic, and in many things can just amble along sometimes.

I think what others admire in the books is the atmosphere that is created - quite brooding/disturbing etc - rather than the quicker-paced novels from elsewhere. Also, the writing itself is consistently of a high standard (even if some of the stories aren't as action-packed).
I actually just had a feature article on Swedish crime writing come out in the latest (August) issue of Good Reading magazine (Aust-based mag). It was a lot of fun doing all the research and reading all of the books, going back to Wahloo and Sjowall etc. I even found out these young adult comic crime novels I read a kid growing up in NZ were actually translated from the original Swedish - Nils Olof Franzen (the Agatan Sax series). Anyway, for anyone interested - See images below:

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