Inspector Martin Beck, 6

October 2, 2011

Apart from the heat of the summer, Sweden is a dreary place. The inside of Inspector Martin Beck’s soul is a dreary place practically year-round.

The social system is corrupt. Crime runs rampant. And the guardians of social order, the police, have hired too many incompetents whose only real interest is lining their own nests. No wonder evil can flourish.

Drugs, munitions, sex. Everything, legal and otherwise, is for sale. Sometimes the only difference between a small-time chiseler and a captain of industry is the number of enemies he makes. In Murder at the Savoy, one such captain, Viktor Palmgren, is giving an after-dinner speech when he is shot from behind by a lone gunman who escapes by stepping out the window.

Who’s responsible? His trophy wife? Her lover? Perhaps the underlings who have been embezzling company funds? Or, as Asa Torell, a new member of the Vice Squad and Martin Beck’s lover, speculates, could “Revenge. Pure and simple” be the motive for murder?

(Try reading this with the cadences of Alan Cumming, the host of Masterpiece Mystery. Pretend that you are standing in front of a camera. As you read, take a few steps to one side and then the other, slowly approaching the camera. Cock your head, raise your eyebrow, and draw out the final word, ‘murder,’ by adding a light Scottish accent to the ‘merrr’. And enjoy. There is no sweeter moment on all of TV.)

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