Friday, June 22, 2012

The Locked Room by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (Harper Perennial 1972)

Anyone who had been in a position to compare the bank robbery squad to the robbers themselves would have found that in many ways they were evenly matched. The squad had enormous technical resources at its disposal, but its opponents possessed a large amount of working capital and also held the initiative.

Very likely Malmström and Mohrén would have made good policemen if anyone could have induced them to devote themselves to so dubious a career. Their physical qualities were formidable, nor was there much wrong with their intelligence.

Neither had ever occupied himself with anything except crime, and now, aged thirty-three and thirty-five respectively, they could rightly be described as able professional criminals. But since only a narrow group of citizens regarded the robbery business as respectable, they had adopted other professions on the side. On passports, driving licences, and other means of identification they described themselves as 'engineer' or 'executive', well-chosen labels in a country that literally swarms with engineers and executives. All their documents were made up in totally different names. The documents were forgeries, but with a particularly convincing appearance, both at first and second sight. Their passports, for example, had already passed a series of tests, both at Swedish and foreign border crossings.

Personally, both Malmström and Mohrén seemed if possible even more trustworthy. They made a pleasant, straightforward impression and seemed healthy and vigorous. Four months of freedom had to some extent modified their appearance; both were now deeply tanned. Malmström had grown a beard, and Mohrén wore not only a moustache but also side-whiskers.

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