Per Wahlöö

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Per Wahlöö
Per Wahloo.jpg
Born (1926-08-05)5 August 1926
Kungsbacka Municipality, Sweden
Died 22 June 1975(1975-06-22) (aged 48)
Malmö, Sweden
Pen name Peter Wahloo
Occupation Novelist, crime reporter
Nationality Swedish
Genre Crime fiction
Notable works Martin Beck
Notable awards The Laughing Policeman, 1971 Edgar Award (Best Novel)

Per Fredrik Wahlöö (5 August 1926 – 22 June 1975) - in English translations often identified as Peter Wahloo - 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. 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 her.[1] Both were Marxists.

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


Wahlöö's career in journalism started in 1947 in Sydsvenskan in Malmö and continued in 1949 at the new Evening Post, where he was a permanent employee, to 1953. He moved onto freelance work in the 1950s, writing theater reviews and film articles for various newspapers including for the newspapers in Norrköping before moving to Stockholm. By May 1964 Per Wahlöö's journalistic path was said to be complete. Subsequently, he was involved in the New Left journal Tidsignal (Time Signal) (1965-1970) where he was part of the editorial board, among others including the writer Kurt Salomonson (sv).[2]

A leftist tendency and a dramatically effective narrative distinguished Wahlöö's early novels about power and the right, for example A Necessary Action from 1962, which depicts Franco's Spain, and his Dictatorship series. From the mid-1960s, he wrote together with life companion Maj Sjöwall a series of detective novels with criminal investigator Martin Beck as protagonist. Several of them have been filmed, and a successful Swedish TV film series ran from 1997-2015, with Peter Haber as Martin Beck. The series was bought by the BBC in 2015, and shown in England with English subtitles.[3]

Per Wahlöö died after an unsuccessful operation on the pancreas (necessitated by cancer) and is buried in the memorial garden at Malmo Sankt Pauli's central cemetery.

Personal life[edit]

Wahlöö was the son of the journalist and writer Waldemar Wahlöö who later married Karin Svensson. He was married to Inger Wahlöö, née Andersson. He was the brother to Claes Wahlöö.


Novels written by Per Wahlöö alone (see Martin Beck for joint collaboration with Sjöwall)

  • The Chief (1959)
  • The Wind and Rain (1961)
  • A Necessary Action (1962)
  • The Assignment (1963)
  • No Roses Grow on Odenplan (1964)
  • Murder on the Thirty-First Floor (1966)
  • The Steel Spring (1968)
  • A Necessary Action (1969)
  • The Steel Spring (1970)
  • The Generals (1974)


He has been described as a part of "the couple who invented Nordic noir",[4] and he is credited as one of the main inspirations for the acclaimed Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø.[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ France, Louise, The Queen of Crime, The Observer, 21 November 2009
  2. ^ Tapper, Michael. Swedish Cops: From Sjöwall and Wahlöö to Stieg Larsson. p. 68. 
  3. ^ Ferguson, Euan (13 September 2015). "The week in TV: Doctor Foster; Beck; Ballers; Hunted; The Queen’s Longest Reign: Elizabeth and Victoria". 
  4. ^ "The couple who invented Nordic Noir". Retrieved 2015-09-13. 
  5. ^ "Per Wahlöö - Salomonsson Agency". Salomonsson Agency. Retrieved 2015-09-13.