Stieg Larsson

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Person.png Stieg Larsson  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(journalist, author)
Stieg Larsson.jpg
Born15 August 1954
Died9 November 2004 (Age 50)

Karl Stig-Erland "Stieg" Larsson (15 August 1954 – 9 November 2004) was a Swedish journalist and writer who is best known for writing the Millennium Trilogy of crime novels, which were published posthumously, starting in 2005, after the author died suddenly of a heart attack. The trilogy was adapted as three motion pictures in Sweden, and one in the United States. The publisher commissioned David Lagercrantz to expand the trilogy into a longer series, which has six novels.

For much of his life, Stieg Larsson lived and worked in Stockholm. His journalistic work covered socialist politics and he acted as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.

Best-selling author

Stieg Larsson was the second-best-selling fiction author in the world for 2008, behind the Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini.[1]

The third and final novel in the Millennium Trilogy, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest", became the bestselling book in the United States in 2010, according to Publishers Weekly.[2] By March 2015, his series had sold 80 million copies worldwide.[3]

Assassination of Olof Palme

In 2014 it was revealed that, right up to his death ten years earlier, Stieg Larsson had been researching the unsolved 1986 assassination of Olof Palme, leaving behind 20 boxes of research in his private archive. The assassin’s identity was never uncovered, but the case made international headlines again in 2014 when it was revealed that Larsson, by then a posthumous bestseller, had once identified a potential suspect to police, although the case was not pursued.

Stieg Larsson, who tracked far-right groups in Sweden for years, was targeted by them in turn. He never married his partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, as their address would then be logged publicly, as per Swedish law. However, this led to a bitter legal fight over Larsson’s estate, which was handed to his brother and father over Gabrielsson. In 2014, Gabrielsson revealed that they had spent most of the year after Palme’s murder attempting to identify the killer together.

BBC journalist Gordon Corera travelled to Stockholm to speak to Jan Stocklassa who had located Larsson's boxes of documents. In a radio programme broadcast on 28 July 2014, Corera described how the documents pointed to the role of various secret services, to questions about elements of the Stockholm police, to South African dirty tricks, and ultimately back to Britain, where he interviewed Duncan Campbell. Named in the programme by Corera as murder suspects were Bertil Wedin and Craig Williamson.[4]

"South Africans killed Palme"

On 25 February 2014, under the headline "South Africans killed Palme", Swedish digital newspaper The Local reported:

"Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" author Stieg Larsson's belief that South Africa lay behind the assassination of Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 has resurfaced, as his widow recalls their private investigation.

The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper on Tuesday revealed its findings after trawling through 15 boxes of material that the Swedish journalist compiled on his quest to solve the murder.

Much of the paperwork focused on Cyprus-based Swede Bertil Wedin, with documents stating that the suspected mercenary may have been in contact with South African security services in the run up to the murder of the fierce anti-apartheid critic Palme. SvD reported that Wedin had confessed four years before the murder in a British court case that he had been in touch with South African agent Craig Williamson.

The bulk of the documents was handed to Larsson by the British publication Searchlight, which tracked rightwing movements. Larsson himself would go on to found the Expo Foundation, which to this day publishes the anti-racism Expo magazine in Sweden. He would also go on to pen the Millennium Trilogy about journalist Mikael Blomqvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Larsson had shared some of his findings with the Swedish authorities, but his long-term partner Eva Gabrielsson told SvD that Larsson had little respect for the Swedish security police after their initial meeting, dubbing them "idiots":

"He had to start the first interview with a lecture on the difference between Nazis and socialists," she recalled.

A year after the assassination, Larsson handed his notes over to the authorities. The "South African lead" would also eventually make headlines in Sweden. Yet the Swedish police has never questioned Wedin in the 28 years that have passed since the shooting in central Stockholm.[5]

"The Man Who Played With Fire"

On 6 March 2019, Amazon’s literature in translation imprint Amazon Crossing, announced it had acquired "The Man Who Played With Fire" by Jan Stocklassa, translated by Tara F Chace. Stocklassa, who also produced a recent documentary of the same name about Larsson’s research into far-right groups, began to access the latter’s archives in 2014. The book, according Amazon Crossing, contains “new facts about the case and reveals the hitherto unknown research … in a fascinating true crime story”.

Stocklassa says around 130 people have confessed to the killing of Palme over the last 30 years, with troops of amateur sleuths gaining their own Swedish slang term: privatspanare, or “private scouts”. Various theories, involving Yugoslavian security services and apartheid-era South African agents, have never been proven.[6]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Gordon Corera travels to Stockholm to investigate the assassination of a prime ministerRadio programme28 July 2014Gordon CoreraIn BBC Radio 4's investigative history series - 'Document' - Gordon Corera investigates the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and explores what Britain knew, starting with boxes of documents including papers written by the late Stieg Larsson (deceased 9 November 2004)
Document:Olof Palme - The Man Who Played With Firebook review2020Simon MatthewsBernt Carlsson, a colleague of Olof Palme’s and UN Commissioner for Namibia 1987-1988, died in the Lockerbie bombing on 21 December 1988. Carlsson's presence on Pan Am Flight 103 has been cited as the reason it was bombed.


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