A weird dystopian warning of a novel, about the error of trying to control your population.
Chief Inspector Jensen Is A Policeman In An Unnamed European Country Where The Government Has Criminalized Being Drunk, Where Newspapers Are Designed For Reassurance, And Where The City Centers Have Been Demolished To Devote Space To Gleaming New Highways Recovering In A Hospital Room Abroad After A Liver Transplant, Jensen Receives A Note Instructing Him To Return Home Immediately, But When He Reaches The Airport He Discovers That All Flights Home Have Been Cancelled And All Communication From Within His Homeland Has Ceased One Of The Last Messages Sent Requested Urgent Medical Help From Abroad But What Has Happen Has An Epidemic Taken Hold And Why Has The Government Fled The Capital To Penetrate The Silence And Mystery That Has Fallen Over The Country And Its People, Jensen Returns Only To Discover The Unthinkable Odd structure, lots and lots of talking I ve read the whole Martin Beck series several times over so the dystopian elements would have caught me off guard if I hadn t read a previous review here.
Comprato solo per il titolo se c una epidemia nel titolo o nella trama difficilmente resisto, indipendentemente dal tipo di epidemia , senza prima indagare su chi fosse l autore o se il volume in questione facesse parte o meno di una serie.
Solitamente tendo a prendere gli autori nordici con le pinze, dopo varie letture inzio a trovarli poco attraenti, ma il titolo, come gi detto, ha fatto da specchietto Fortunatamente solo il secondo di una serie di due titoli il primo Delitto al trentunesimo piano ma non so se la cosa potrebbe istigarmi a leggere il primo capitolo della storia dell Ispettore Jensen.
Il paese, mai nominato ma si presuppone la Svezia , ben descritto nella sua politica e nelle abitudini anche nel secondo volume e, nella sua essenza di thriller fantapolitico, non mi icnuriosisce al punto da approfondire la storia.
Tutto, epidemia compresa, sembra solo una scusa per criticare un certo modo di fare politica o di gestire i problemi sociali che, da quanto letto in altri romanzi di autori nordici, non poi cos distante dalla realt dei fatti Solo un filo pi estremi che nella nostra attualit.
Seguire le vicende personali di Jensen fastidioso, per l antipatia di quasi tutti i personaggi pi che per il probabile futuro mostrato e, in questo caso, non posso neppure dare la colpa al fatto che il romanzo possa essere datato che mi sono accorta molto dopo che era stato scritto nel 68 , visto che la situazione ucronica ma forse troppo definirla cos potrebbe essere ancora possibile e non stata sconfessata dall evoluzione della socit presa in esame dallo scrittore.
Si trappa proprio di un romanzo che descrive poco e lascia ancora meno.
La seconda stelletta solo per l epidemia che, sotto sotto, stata gestita in maniera originale per quanto riguarda la sua genesi.
The Steel Spring is a heavy handed lesson in why you can t write from a theme as opposed to a story Per Wahloo was an avowed Marxist and has attempted a Marxist critique of a future Sweden though the country is unnamed in the novel , based on the not unreasonable concept that the liberal Social Democrats have combined with the trade unions to exploit the workers for capitalist benefit The result is a dystopian society prefiguring what has now become the sandbox of YA novels and Hollywood films It s about as compelling as those socialist realist novels cranked out under Stalin Here, Wahloo creates a dunderhead of a detective who s incapable of understanding evidence or solving a case and whose main function is to ask repetitive questions of two other characters who happen to understand what s happened for the last 75% of the novel So we have lots of And then what happened And so you might ask, why did I keep reading this thing Mainly because I thoroughly enjoyed the ten book series that Wahloo wrote after this one with his wife, Maj Sjowall, featuring the brilliant detective, Martin Beck These are the novels that introduced the concept of Scandinavian Noir in the 1960s and have had such a strong impact on current writing of fiction and television scripts in the Nordic countries today The Martin Beck series supposedly carries the same theme the double crossing of the real socialist movement in Sweden which then brought on the country s social ills but in such a subtle way that hardly any readers this one included understood the point My guess is the Martin Beck series was an alternate attempt to draw us in to their political thesis by disguising it under plot instead of turning us off the way The Steel Spring does It s worth saying that the problem is not in the Marxist agenda, but in the heavy handed way it s pushed at the expense of story If you re interested in writing fiction, Steel Spring is a fine lesson in the need to balance theme and story and the danger of novels driven primarily by theme rather than plot.
This was the last novel that Per Wahloo wrote on his own see Fantastic Fiction All the later ones, the last six in the ten title Martin Beck series, were written in partnership with Maj Sjowal THE STEEL SPRING is the only one of his stand alone novels that I have read so far, although I have some on my radar.
Although crimes have obviously been committed, the plot is not really crime fiction, but rather is dystopian, emerging from his Marxist based vision of where Swedish society is headed It is heavily infused with disillusionment and scary messages In contrast to other dystopian novels that I have read, it is not a world apocalypse that will destroy Sweden, but rather it will self combust.
He does not name Sweden in the novel, probably to escape some sort of prosecution, but every one who read the novel at the time would know which country he was referring to Hakan Nesser uses a similar ploy in his novels set in an unnamed Scandinavian country, although I don t think his have the political overtones of THE STEEL SPRING and perhaps others by Per Wahloo.
Although there is at least one mystery strand, the tone of the novel is polemic and didactic, and will not suit some readers On the other hand it reminded me of FAHRENHEIT 451 Ray Bradbury , NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Cormac McCarthy , and Chris Womersley s THE LOW ROAD And it is not unknown for crime fiction writers to convey social messages through their work think about Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell and others.
When I saw The Steel Spring in a bookshop and noticed that it was written by a co author of the Martin Beck crime series, I snapped it up Set in an unnamed country, the novel centres on Inspector Jensen, a patient who is about to go abroad for a transplant operation His last official act before leaving is to issue warrants for the arrest of a number of doctors, including his own.
When Jensen recovers, he is contacted by some government figures who advise him that there is something mysterious going on at home and communications are down They order him to go back to find out what is going on, and report back When he returns, Jensen soon discovers that the country seems to be in the grip of a massive epidemic, and society is falling apart.
Per Wahloo wrote this dystopian novel in 1968 when the Beck series was at its height the same year of publication as The Laughing Policeman It s nothing like the Beck novels though, being far polemical in nature Wahloo and Sjowall were both Marxists, and they used the Beck novels to convey their criticisms of Swedish society at the time Where the Beck novels did this subtly, Wahloo goes in hard here The Steel Spring is an unsubtle diatribe against capitalism and right wing politics only barely disguised as a mystery novel Probably too unsubtle for me.
The first two thirds of this novel were masterful and understated Wahloo s end of the world or rather end of a country scenario was realistic and even laconically artistic, but most importantly, not at all melodramatic or hyperbolic or silly Unfortunately, the final third of the book comes to a standstill of rather dull and unnecessary exposition Imagine if Cormac McCarthy had explained everything to us in The Road Or if Wittgenstein s Mistress would have had a revealing epilogue Now I know I m unfairly comparing two different genres mystery to literary , but I wish this particular mystery had allowed some of the mystery to linger It would have made for a interesting read.
Per Wahloo un grande della letteratura gialla, probabilmente il pap di tutti quei fenomeni scandinavi che si aggirano oggi per le nostre librerie, per a volte anche i grandi sbagliano Ecco, questo uno di quei casi Trama debole debole e assolutamente surreale, commissario inesistente, poco pathos e finale ridicolo Capita