Chief Inspector Jensen is a policeman in an unnamed European country where the government has criminalised being drunk, even in private at home, and where the city centres have been demolished to devote more space to gleaming new roads.
Recovering in a hospital room abroad after a liver transplant, Jensen receives a note instructing him to return home immediately, but when he reaches the airport he discovers that all flights home have been cancelled and all communication from within his homeland has ceased. One of the last messages sent requested urgent medical help from abroad and when Jensen is piloted across the border it soon becomes clear that an epidemic has ravaged the country.
Born in 1926, Per Wahloeoe was a Swedish writer and journalist who, alongside his own novels, collaborated with his wife, Maj Sjoewall, on the bestselling Martin Beck crime series which are credited as inspiring writers as varied as Agatha Christie, Henning Mankell and Jonathan Franzen. In 1971 the fourth novel in the series, The Laughing Policeman, won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Per Wahloeoe died in 1975.