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Ebook Murder On The Thirty-First Floor by Per Wahlöö read! Book Title: Murder On The Thirty-First Floor
The author of the book: Per Wahlöö
Language: English
ISBN: 0307744450
ISBN 13: 9780307744456
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 8.27 MB
Edition: Vintage
Date of issue: February 19th 2013
Reader ratings: 4.6
Loaded: 312 times

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Book Review

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.
- Karl Marx

Written in 1964, Murder on the Thirty-first Floor is grey caviar. The first in a dyptich starring Inspector Jensen, Per's novel takes a fascinating, albeit chilling, look at the relationship between the individual and the State. Fans of Kafka, Orwell, Graham Greene, Heinrich Böll, and Stanley Kubrick will undoubtably be drawn to Per's novels. A pioneer of Scandinavian fiction's predilection to use the crime fiction genre to comment on economical, sociological and political issues Per Wahlöö makes no bones about his ardent allegiance to Marxism.

So, let me stop right there!

I knew all this before picking up the book. You know, right? I was prepared for Marxism. But, you would think that a book written by a Marxist would elevate the intellectual tenants of the means of production, the social classes, the proletariat and bourgeoisie. Right?

And then you come across passages like this:

Here we have the abolishment of individualism and free will. Identity is directly tied to the means of production.

"On the pavements there were people who had temporarily left their cars. As ever, they were well-dressed and looked very much alike. They moved quickly and nervously, as if they couldn't wait to get back to their cars. Once inside their vehicles, their sense of integrity was intensified. Since the cars were different in size, colour, shape and horsepower, they lent their owner an identity. What was more, they brought about a sense of group identity. People with the same cars unconsciously felt that they belonged to a peer group that was easier to grasp than society under the Accord in general."

Or, let's take a look at the total abolishment of private lives. In the following, a woman is found drinking in her own home, at which point Jensen immediately sends for a police officer to arrest her. Jensen never arrests someone directly as this is accorded to the identity and function of uniformed policemen, not inspectors.

"She was nineteen. In the top right-hand corner [of her identity card] there were two red marks, fully visible even though someone had tried to blot them out. That means two arrests for drinking. A third would mean immediate admittance to an alcohol abuse clinic."

Or, how about the Self Clearance estates? Large tracts of identical housing are left to whither as nature slowly takes over the grey, concrete block structures, thus eventually across years forcing everyone out.

"Here and there he saw distant suburbs or self-clearance estates silhouetted against the sky. From the horizon to the motorway, the ground was covered in an expanse of dry and dreary vegetation: deformed trees and low, scrubby bushes."

Perhaps it is my predilection towards capitalism, or free-will, or individuality that is preventing me from seeing how anyone could ascribe to this kind of world. Surely not even a Marxist would write this stuff? I mean, no matter where you go, this book is either described as cold, chilling, dystopian, Utopian, Orwelian or what not. But folks, this isn't some future dystopian novel. This is not utopia. This sociopolitical aspect of the book is not fiction. The world described by Per is now actual history. It is a chilling account of what actually happened in Russia and its satellite nations as Marxism is applied. Perhaps some aspects are exagerated for the sake of fiction, but the essence is clear enough.

As to the mystery? The book is a police procedural. But, procedures are tied to the economic means of production: in this case the function of a police organization which is to safe guard the proper functioning of the working classes. Inspector Jensen, as said before, does not arrest anyone. That is the function of plain-clothes men. He is perfunctory with his orders to the lower strata of functions, which he views as a function of society, not as individuals to whom he is speaking: always ending his orders with "and be quick about it!"

As one reviewer puts it, the book reads like a combination of George Orwell and Dragnet. An accurate observation.

Even food plays a role in this mystery (to see what the mystery is about, just read the book description). Throughout the investigation, Jensen barely eats which results in gastronomical pain, a pain that keeps him alert. Only upon resolving the case do we find him scarfing down a huge plate of food at which point he sits back and relishes the dull, sleepy semi-conscious state eating affords him. It is highly suggestive that this, one of the final scenes in the book, is a purposeful act implemented by whatever Ministry is in charge of food production: food as a opiate to quiet the masses. Speaking of Ministries. There's one for every facet of life you can think of: life as completely State controlled.

And, of course, primary to the novel is the Marxist view as to the proper function of corporations - in this case The Concern (the place where the crime takes place). A conglomerate of newspapers and magazines (no individual magazines or newspapers exist, they've all been bought out by the Concern). It's purpose? Read on:

"In times past, the press often exerted an inflammatory and unsettling influence on its readership. Now, its design and content are designed solely for its readers benefit."

What is that benefit?

"The publications are aimed at the family, at being something they can all read, at not creating aggression, dissatisfaction or anxiety. They satisfy ordinary people's natural need for escapism. In short, they are in the service of the Accord."

At once surreal, existential and imaginative this book is a fascinating view into socialism and Marxism, cleverly disguised as an intelligent mystery novel.


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Series Review


Per Wahlöö

Per Wahlöö (1926–1975) was born in Tölö parish, Kungsbacka Municipality, Halland. Following school, he worked as a crime reporter from 1946 onwards. After long trips around the world he returned to Sweden and started working as a journalist again.He had a thirteen year relationship with his colleague Maj Sjöwall but never married. Both were Marxists. He was married to Inger Wahlöö, née Andersson. He was brother to Claes Wahlöö. He died of cancer at Malmö in 1975, aged 48. He is considered one of the Godfathers of Scandinavian crime fiction (according to Jo Nesbo).

Per Wahlöö is the (co-)recipient of some of the finest crime/thriller awards in the world, including The Edgar Award (US), Gran Giallo Citta di Cattolica (Italy), the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Svenska Deckarakademins pris) (Sweden), the Danish Poe Club’s Award (Denmark) and Svenska Dagbladets Literary Award (Svenska Dagbladets Litteraturpris) (Sweden).

Along with his Dictatorship series and surely as a result of his collaboration with common-law wife Maj Sjöwall (resulting in 10 Martin Beck crime novels) Per Wahlöö stands out as one of Sweden's finest and most controversial writers of the 20th century.


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Ebook Murder On The Thirty-First Floor read Online! Per Fredrik Wahlöö (5 August 1926 - 22 June 1975) was a Swedish author. He is perhaps best known for the collaborative work with his partner Maj Sjöwall on a series of ten novels about the exploits of Martin Beck, a police detective in Stockholm, published between 1965 and 1975. In 1971, The Laughing Policeman (a translation of Den skrattande polisen, originally published in 1968) won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Novel. Wahlöö and Sjöwall also wrote novels separately.

Wahlöö was born in Tölö parish, Kungsbacka Municipality, Halland. After his studies, from 1946 onwards he worked as a crime reporter. After long trips around the world he returned to Sweden and started working as a journalist again.

He had a 13 year relationship with his colleague Maj Sjöwall but never married [1] Both were Marxists.

He has been married to Inger Wahlöö, née Andersson. He was brother to Claes Wahlöö.

He died of cancer at Malmö in 1975, aged 48.


Series written with Maj Sjöwall:
* Martin Beck


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