The Steel Spring, By Per Wahlöö (Trs by Sarah Death)

Godfather ofthe Nordic crime wave

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Best known for the popular Martin Beck detective series, which he co-wrote with his wife Maj Sjöwall, the late Per Wahlöö was a progenitor of modern Scandinavian crime fiction.

The Steel Spring (1968), reissued this month by Vintage, is one of his lesser-known works, a dystopian thriller in which a grizzled gumshoe investigates a coup d'etat in an unnamed European state. The premise is intriguing, although there is rather too much exposition, and the novel ultimately lacks drama. Still, the themes are topical: the coup in question turns out to have been the result of a government attempt to privatise the state health service, a move that led to riots, epidemics and genocide. Food for thought, eh Mr Cameron?