The Szechenyi Baths
Photo of the Szechenyi Baths by wfbakker2 used under a Creative Commons license.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Man Who Went up in Smoke (Vintage, 2008).
Inspector Martin Beck of the Stockholm police has just arrived at Baltic island for an overdue vacation when he is summoned back to the capital and asked by the national government to find a missing man, a journalist named Alf Mattson who has not returned from a trip to Budapest.  Beck soon finds himself flying to Budapest to search for Mattson.  The Man Who Went up in Smoke was first published in 1966, when Hungary lay behind the Iron Curtain and Sweden was neutral.  Sjöwall and Wahlöö may not be the first guides you’d pick for a visit to Hungary, but they do write an nice little mystery.  Note that this is the second of a series.

Here is Wikipedia’s entry about the authors, a husband-and-wife team. Maxine Clarke wondered if it could live up to the praise for the series, but calls it marvelous. James Smith says the accumulation of detail is almost mesmeric.  William Corbett (The Boston Phoenix) says Sjöwall and Wahlöö deliver all that you want from a thriller. Kate S. charts its resonances in more recent fiction.  David Cranmer thinks the joy of the book is in the way Beck’s character is drawn. Moonraking posts a random passage. Adam Bowie likes it.

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