The Man Who Went Up in Smoke gives us the dedicated Beck at his most engaging: indulging in the sumptuous Hungarian cuisine, longing for a decent cigarette, and evading a predatory nymphet, even as he pursues a case whose international boundaries grow with every new clue.
Crack another case with Martin Beck.
©1997 Random House, Inc.; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Minor Swedish police procedural from 1969 about a journalist who disappears. Largely set in Hungary. Downbeat, uneventful but pleasant enough if you’re a fan of the genre. I wouldn't recommend it to any friends. Narration was excellent.
I listened to about 3/4 of this and finally gave up. A dull translation of a dated book.
The cynical view of Sweden, it's people and its politics is both amusing and entertaining. There is still enough caring and thought among the the committed cops of the homicide department to make this a fun listen.
This is one of the oddest episodes of the Martin Beck series in that it focuses most clearly on Beck -- the pseudo-protagonist and namesake of convenience -- with the rest of the series' characters barely making an appearance, and Sweden itself disappearing into the distance as Beck travels to Budapest for his investigation.
Kollberg and the other members of the National Murder Squad barely factor into The Man Who Went Up In Smoke, and that is both sad and glad tidings for readers: sad because they are such an important part of most of the stories; glad because it is nice to focus on Martin Beck for a while and just linger on his detachment as he goes through the procedure of figuring out what happened to missing Swedish journalist, Alf Matsson.
It is also nice to see Budapest as a character, and for readers of Henning Mankell or China Mieville, the environs of Budapest will be familiar for completely different but no less fascinating reasons.
Probably the best part of listening to this book, however, is the silky gravel of Tom Weiner's voice. It absolutely IS the Martin Beck novels to me, and in a lesser chapter in the series, like The Man Who Went Up In Smoke, any of the cracks are puttied over by Weiner's delivery. I am guessing Weiner doesn't read the Swedish Language audios of this series, and I feel sad for native Swedes that he doesn't because his voice is a perfect match for the National Murder Squad and their decalogue.
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