Monday, January 14, 2013

The Stieg Larsson Novels

Stieg Larsson is the author of the of the famously popular trilogy of crime thrillers:  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.  These books were all published after the author’s death.
Stieg Larsson was born on August 15, 1954 and died on November 9, 2004.  As is the setting and characters of his novels, Stieg Larsson was Swedish.  He was a year younger than me and died at the age of 50.  It bothered me when I read this on the author biography page of the his first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I read at Christmas break in 2011.  I wanted to know more about this very talented writer and storyteller but as is often the case, even in this internet age, I did nothing.  I read the second and third books in this series over this recent Christmas break.   
This year I did do an internet search on Larsson.  I found out that he died of a heart attack.  The elevator in the building where he had an office was not working.  He climbed seven flights of stairs to his office, had a heart attack, and died.  His death was not without controversy.  Some believe foul play was involved because of his lifelong struggle against right wing extremists.  This lifelong battle made Stieg some pretty unsavory enemies.    The second reason for controversy was because of his recent fame and the fact that he did not leave a witnessed will.  As a result,his estate went to his estranged father and brother rather than to the Socialist Party as was his wish.  The reasons for these controversies are intertwined.  
He had lived, as an unmarried couple, with the love of his life Eva Gabrielsson.  Per Wikipedia, “the two never married because, under Swedish law, couples entering into marriage are required to make their addresses (at the time) publicly available; marrying would have been a security risk.”  Marriage required, also by Swedish, that the couples register their addresses.  Larsson had many death threats from the right wing extremists and supposedly that is the reason that he and Eva never married.  These themes certainly are evident in his novels.  The crusade against right wing extremist is certainly manifested in both his main characters Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  
Another theme, that runs through his books, is sexual violence against women.  Larsson witnessed three of his friends gang rape a girl.  He was only fifteen at the time.  He abhorred this act and railed against it all his life.  
Revenge is also a theme in his books.  Bad guys should always be held accountable for their crimes.  This crime can come from either the state or his major protagonist Lisbeth Salander.  As the consummate hacker, she wreaks revenge on those that did by hampering their ability to operate in this modern world.  She has always and quite literally have to fight for her life.  She was good at it.  Lisbeth Salander was as much vigilante as she was a top notch researcher and detective.
Mikail Blomkvist is either modeled after Larsson or is Larsson’s alter ego.  He is a top notch investigative journalist fighting corporate corruption and the Swedish ultra right wing.  He is hardworking and smart though without the photographic memory of Salandar.  The books are about the complex love and friendship between Salander and Blomkvist.  
The books are, all three, top notch crime thrillers.  Larsson is a Swedish modern Robert Ludlum.  Once you get into them, you simply cannot put them down.  I totally recommend them.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. The Larsson series is great.