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Patrick AndersonHolmes, Poirot and Wolfe were colorful, larger-than-life figures, but the Swedish detective Martin Beck is so ordinary it hurts. He's average-looking and drably dressed. He's given to colds and headaches, smokes too much and has a lousy marriage. His one passion is solving crimes. In this novel, a woman's naked body turns up in the waters of a Swedish canal. For months the police can't even identify her. Finally she proves to be an American tourist named Roseanna, a passenger on a cruise ship. The police work is slow and frustrating, but Beck is outraged by the way the woman died, and he won't give up. The narrative is often grim and clinical, but there is a harsh beauty in its relentlessness, in its inexorable progress. The investigation inches along, then ends with a burst of violence that amounts to a catharsis for Beck and for the reader.
—The Washington Post