Per Wahlöö was born Peter Fredrik Wahlöö on August 5, 1926, in Göteborg, Sweden, the son of Waldemar Wahlöö and Karin Helena Svensson Wahlöö. He attended the University of Lund, from which he was graduated in 1946, and began a career as a journalist. Throughout the 1950’s, Wahlöö wrote about criminal and social issues for several Swedish magazines and newspapers before publishing his first novel, Himmelsgetan, in 1959. Also deeply involved in left-wing politics, Wahlöö was deported from Francisco Franco’s Spain in 1957 for his political activities.
Before his success as coauthor of the Martin Beck books, Wahlöö’s published novels were translated into English under the name Peter Wahlöö. Like the Beck books, Wahlöö’s other novels are chiefly concerned with philosophical and sociological themes, examining through fiction the relationship of people to the society in which they live. Wahlöö is the author of two detective novels—Mord paa 31: A vaaningen (1964; Murder on the Thirty-first Floor, 1966; filmed as Kamikaze 1989 in 1984) and Staalspraanget (1968; The Steel Spring, 1970)—featuring Chief Inspector Jensen, a police detective in an unnamed, apathetic northern country clearly intended as a bleak projection of Sweden’s future. Wahlöö also wrote scripts for radio, television, and film, and translated some of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels into Swedish.
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