Sunday, June 03, 2012

Murder at the Savoy by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (Harper Perennial 1970)

Lennart Kollberg didn't know which way to turn.

The job he'd been assigned seemed both repugnant and pointless. It never occurred to him, however, that it would turn out to be complicated.

He would call on a couple of people, talk to them, and that's all there would be to it

A little before ten o'clock he left the South police station in Västberga, where all was quiet and peaceful, largely because of the shortage of personnel There was no shortage of work, however, for all varieties of crime flourished better than ever in the fertile topsoil provided by the welfare state.

The reasons for this were cloaked in mystery - at least for those who had the responsibility of governing and for the experts who had the delicate task of trying to make the society function smoothly.

Behind its spectacular topographical facade and under its polished, semi-fashionable surface, Stockholm had become an asphalt jungle, where drug addiction and sexual perversion ran more rampant than ever. Unscrupulous profiteers could make enormous profits quite legally on pornography of the sleaziest kind. Professional criminals became not only more numerous but also better organized. An impoverished proletariat was also being created, especially among the elderly. Inflation had given rise to one of the highest costs of living in the world, and the latest surveys showed that many pensioners had to live on dog and cat food in order to make ends meet.

The fact that juvenile delinquency and alcoholism (which had always been a problem) continued to increase surprised no one but those with responsible positions in the Civil Service and at Cabinet level.

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