Martin Beck on BBC Radio 4

A few days ago we told you about how Modesty Blaise is returning to the airwaves thanks to a BBC serialisation of A Taste For Death. Well, there’s a treat on the way for lovers of Scandinavian crime fiction too – Radio 4 is running a 10-episode adaptation of the Martin Beck novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The first episode runs on Saturday 27 October at 2:30pm BST and will focus on the very first Beck book, Roseanna. It’s a novel we looked at in-depth during our Classics in September month, lauded because it was a blueprint for future police procedurals, and established the authors as the grandparents of Nordic Noir.

Naturally, at one hour 15 minutes, the story has been shortened for radio, and has been dramatised by Jennifer Howarth. Beck is voiced by Steve Mackintosh, and his cohort Lennert by Neil Pearson. Roseanna opens with the discovery of a young woman’s body floating in a canal. The victim has been raped and murdered, but with no means of identifying her, the case quickly hits a brick wall. It’s not until several months later that Beck and his team finally get a break when they’re contacted by Interpol and our victim is finally named. She’s Roseanna McGraw, an American tourist who was travelling by boat down to southern Sweden at the time of her death. Even with this information, it’s another six months before Beck and his team finally solve the case.

Details of the nine further episodes aren’t on the BBC site as yet, but as there were 10 Beck novels it seems likely they’ll follow the original running order and The Man Who Went Up in Smoke will be next.

For more details and to hear a clip, click here. The Martin Beck Murders is running alongside Foreign Bodies: An Investigation into European Detectives which is 15 episodes long and runs every Tuesday at 1:45pm, with Mark Lawson. Episode two runs today focusing on Inspector Barlach.

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8 Comments

  1. Barry Elsom Reply

    I listened to this programme, after it was much heralded on Radio 4. The young woman went missing from a canal cruiser, it later turned out that she had been killed by a psychopath, in her cabin and dumped overboard. Surely her absence would have been noticed by the cabin maid when she made up the room the following day, and at the end of the trip, when she had left all her clothes and her luggage, in her cabin after everyone had disembarked. They would have reported her missing to the police, and her identity would have been established weeks earlier. A poorly structured plot, or poorly abrtidged

  2. Tony Clewes Reply

    My initial reaction on hearing that the BBC was dramatizing Martin Beck was one of great annoyance. I bought all 10 novels from ‘The Book People’ for £10 when I was made redundant in 2009 and read them one after another. I thought they were my secret and then then this news ! However I have really enjoyed the two plays I have heard so far and I am looking forward to the rest. I don’t mind sharing them. Honestly.

  3. Recyclotron Reply

    The Martin Beck series seems to have stalled at episode 5 (of 10), with no clue on the BBC website as to when it will restart. Also the podcasts were originally listed as being available until the end of the year, but are no longer there. Instead there is a link through which one can buy a copy from audible.

  4. Josephine O'Neill Reply

    Remember the point of this programme, which was to analyse how these incredible authors contributed to our understanding of each European country at a particular point in history. The authors of Martin Beck were noteworthy characters who (having given up on trying to inform people about the defects in Swedish society using conventional methods) turned to crime writing and were highly successful in their aim but perhaps remained low in their bank accounts.

  5. David Coe Reply

    I have it on good authority that the last 5 episodes will air in July 2013, as in this year! But we’ll have to wait and see! might need Sarah Lunds torch to shed soem light into the darkness left by this promissing series of 10 that ended in 5

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