Sunday, August 31, 2008


This blog is now dormant and has moved with all the old posts and many new ones to Crime Scraps Review at
Please come one over.

Barbara Fister, whose website Scandinavian Crime Fiction in English and her companion blog have become excellent resources, commented on my recent follow up post on the arguments over female crime writers in Sweden that 'it would be interesting to see how Sjowall and Wahloo were marketed'.

Above are the covers of a 30 year old Penguin edition of Polismordaren, Cop Killer by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo and a recent Swedish edition of Prime Time by Liza Marklund.
You don't need to be in the publishing industry, or a graphic designer, to note the huge change in emphasis away from the story and the detective to concentrate on the author.
The books title has become secondary in the marketing of the Marklund novel, while the authors Sjowall and Wahloo are tertiary to the information conveyed in the title and the name of the detective in the 1978 book.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I am well into Robert Wilson's third book in the Javier Falcon series The Hidden Assassins and enjoying it immensely. It is a very long book 642 pages but I am in the 400s now and it contains enough plot twists, events and intelligent discussion to have held my attention despite considerable distractions.

Inspector Jefe Javier Falcon is investigating a corpse found on a municipal dump, whose face has been burned off with acid and whose hands have been cut off, when Seville is rocked by a huge explosion. 
An apartment block with a mosque in its basement has been destroyed and with the city in panic there are many theories.
Was this the work of  Islamic terrorists or a right wing Christian anti-Muslim group getting some kind of revenge for the Madrid train bombings? 
While Javier, the homicide squad, and the intelligence service investigate the cause of the explosion and the rubble is slowly excavated serious complications arise in Javier's personal life. 
His one time lover Consuelo is on the verge of a break down, and his ex-wife Ines is the victim of spousal abuse by her husband Esteban Calderon who happens to be the Juez de Instrucction in charge of directing the investigation.

'Terror is just a tool to bring about change.'

[to be continued]


No contest really as I have read Liza Marklund's The Bomber and her books do come highly recommended by Petrona. And as far as I know G.W.Perssson has not been translated into English. Well that's my excuse and I am sticking to it.


The Great Northern War I refer to is not the one that ended with the Battle of Poltava and the defeat of Charles XII of Sweden in the first of three great failed expeditions into the wastes of Russia, but an argument that has broken out between crime writers. Thanks to Scandinavian Crime Fiction for the link to the Earth Times article here.

Two young attractive female crime writers are criticised by some not as successful older male writers. 

Camilla Lackberg was attacked by G.W.Persson, a 62 year old professor of criminology and prize winning author, for planning her novels like kitsch novellas for equestrian events and writing in the style of stupid children's books. 
Camilla struck back by saying 'this is just the piss of an elderly gentleman who feels somehow left out.'

Bjoern Ranelid 58 has been attacking attractive blonde Liza Marklund 44  by saying 'One million Swedes can write like Liza Marklund' and complaining about her photo being placed on all her book covers! Read the article here.

Do these 'elderly gentlemen' [what does that make me] think that male crime fiction readers are so shallow that we would buy books just because the female author is attractive? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Death Rites by Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett is the first book in the Petra Delicado series written in 1996, translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Dunne and published this year in English.
Inspector Petra Delicado has been holding down a desk job in the documentation department of the Barcelona police force. She has problems shaking off two ex-husbands, the domineering Hugo, and the helpless toy boy Pepe, and then because the department is short handed she is assigned a case and a partner. 
Her new partner is Sergeant Fermin Garzon an overweight unsophisticated widower in his late fifties from Salamanca.

Petra is of course very different,  'despite my brilliant training as a lawyer and my police studies at the Academy, I had never been assigned a significant case. I was labelled "an intellectual." I was also a woman. All I needed was black or Gypsy blood in my veins to complete the picture of exclusion." 
Their case involves a serial rapist who leaves a distinctive flower mark on his fragile victims.

I have to admit I found this book rather heavy going as the investigation took second place to a lot of conversation and philosophizing by Petra. My difficulty was not that the lead detective was a woman as I had no problem with Irene Huss or Grazia Negro, but that the plot was not strong enough to keep my wavering attention. 
Getting mileage out of the strained relationship between the two detectives and of the apparently surprising situation of a woman being in charge does begin to wear thin after a while. At least the growing respect and burgeoning platonic friendship between Petra and Fermin is one of the better themes of the book.

'Unbelievable, Garzon, you're unbelievable, really."
He laughed with delight.
'You've achieved something impossible for me, you've rid me of all my husbands.'

I want to give novels set in Spain another chance to excite me so I have moved on to Robert Wilson's Javier Falcon thriller The Hidden Assassins. The only Robert Wilson book I have read previously was the brilliant A Small Death in Lisbon which won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger back in 1999, therefore I am hoping The Hidden Assasins will be of a similar standard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I have nothing but great admiration for the anti-fascist and anti-violence stances taken by the crusading journalist Stieg Larsson but the increasing ballyhoo with regard to his first novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is becoming quite ridiculous. 

I have reviewed the novel here and  posted about the Stieg Larsson phenomenon here.

Yesterday the The Times Books section lead story was entitled 'Monster hit , the extraordinary story behind the literary sensation, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' and the entire cover devoted to a photo of a girl with a tattoo that appeared to be borrowed from the cover of a John Burdett  Bangkok novel. You can read the full article here.

The on line article does not include some of the print version side bar comments such as:

'The ballyhoo is fully justified.' Marcel Berlins, The Times

'Swedish crime fiction like the country, has both class and social conscience. It was only a matter of time before it produced its own War and Peace.' 
Sydney Morning Herald

'It doesn't get better than this.' Gefle Dagblad, Sweden

It almost makes it a pleasant change to come back to earth and read a dissenting voice such as this over the top quite vicious review from the Charleston City paper. The ballyhoo is such that although the Times article makes play with the fact that 'Tattoo' was nominated for the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger it fails to mention that it did not win, and lost out to Dominique Manotti's taut political thriller Lorraine Connection reviewed here.

We can remember Stieg Larsson as a great campaigner for righteous causes but let us not get carried away The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is not a great book. It is certainly  not in the class of the novels of Sjowall and Wahloo, Henning Mankell, Arnaldur Indridason, Karin Fossum, and Jo Nesbo. 

I believe Larsson was learning his craft with Tattoo and I fully expect The Girl Who Played With Fire, his second book which did win the Basta Svenska Kriminalroman in 2006, to be  a much better structured and plotted effort.
The danger is that with all the hype and overblown praise heaped on Tattoo new readers to Scandinavian crime fiction will be put off by the turgid beginning and other faults in Larsson's book from reading more accomplished authors. There is an interesting post from Petrona here with links to reviews of some excellent Nordic crime fiction.

As far as I am concerned The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, even with Lisbeth Salander, is a far inferior book to any of the three Jo Nesbo books I have read and reviewed here, here and here or the gripping Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theoren reviewed here

More insanity here with a suggestion that Stieg Larsson should get the Nobel Prize for Literature!

Friday, August 22, 2008


This morning, at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Jagerstrasser, I saw two men, SA men, unscrewing a red Der Sturmer showcase from the wall of a building. Der Sturmer is the anti-Semitic journal that's run by the Reich's leading Jew -baiter, Julius Streicher.
This time I went up to them and asked them what they were doing.

'It's for the Olympiad,' said one. 'We're ordered to take them all down so as not to shock the foreign visitors who  will be coming to Berlin to see the Games.'

from March Violets: Philip Kerr, the first in the Bernie Gunther series written in 1989.

'You can get big headlines back home for slating the repressive regime and there are some aspects that are profoundly repressive but there is a great risk of going too far.' 

Tessa Jowell, British Olympics Minister 22 August 2008 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


CCTV footage shows a bank robbery in progress. A man dressed in black puts a gun to the cashier Stine Grette's head. She is told to count to twenty five while Klementsen the manager struggles with the keys to open the ATM and put the money in a black holdall.
He does not do it quickly enough and Stinne is executed. 
Harry Hole becomes part of the investigative team working under the self confident chief of the robbery squad PAS Rune Ivarsson.  
Meanwhile Harry's girlfriend Rakel is in Moscow with her son Oleg fighting a custody battle through the courts with Oleg's father, and Harry accepts an invitation to dinner from Anna, an old flame. Serious complications arise when  Anna is found shot dead in her bed and Harry who has a massive hangover cannot remember anything about  the past twelve hours. 
There is another bank robbery. Harry and his  gifted new partner Beate study the CCTV of the robberies while Harry begins one of his lone ranger investigations into Anna's death but then he starts to receive threatening e-mails. 

This is a superb crime thriller and once again Jo Nesbo weaves several  plot lines through a complex web of red herrings and false trails till almost everything is made clear at the end. I say almost and won't explain because I don't want to spoil things for those who have not read any of the Harry Hole series.

These were published in English and read by me in the incorrect order:
Firstly The Devil's Star number 5 reviewed here.
Secondly The Redbreast number 3 reviewed here.

and now Nemesis number 4.  

Actually reading them in this order was ideal for an impatient person like myself because if they had been published in the correct order I would have had to learn Norwegian or send really threatening e-mails to the publisher demanding a translation in order to find out what had happened in Harry's investigation into .......... No spoilers here, these are a must read series of books.

Jo Nesbo manages when seemingly a crime is solved to produce yet another twist in the tail. He teases us with explanations that seem to resolve matters but simply lead on to other more complicated or simpler solutions, and of course his characters are just so memorable. 

I am sure we have all  come across a few Rune Ivarssons.

'Furthermore Rune Ivarsson had the natural self-confidence that many misinterpret as a leadership quality. In his case, this confidence was based solely on being blessed with a total blindness to his own shortcomings......'

And even a few quasi-Tom Waalers.

'Given Waaler's view on skin colour, it was a paradox for Harry that his colleague spent so much time in the solarium, but perhaps it was true what one wag had said: Waaler wasn't actually a racist. He was just as happy beating up neo-Nazis as blacks.'

And through the character of the mysterious and enigmatic Raskol Baxhet, Jo Nesbo gives us a social commentary and history on the treatment of the gypsy people.

'We have been persecuted by every single regime in Europe. There is no difference between fascists, communists and democrats; the fascists were just a little bit more efficient.'

'In Moravia they cut the left ear off gypsy women, in Bohemia the right.'

But these novels of course lean heavily on the character of Harry who is not just another alcoholic detective, but a much more complex character. He is considered a nuisance by his employers but he is a good cop whose sense of justice leads him in the right direction. His love for Sis, his older sister who has Down's syndrome, Rakel and Oleg, Rakel's son means that at times all seems to come together for Harry until his old friend Jim Beam reappears on the scene.

I don't usually like very long books but Jo Nesbo is an exception and I enjoyed every page and every nuance in the plot because even the minor characters are drawn with such clarity. This was a story I wanted to get to the end [I read it in three days] but did not want it to finish, if you know what I mean. 

There is a lot of information about the author, the books and a very good interview with the author at the official Jo Nesbo website here.
The good news is that there are more untranslated Harry Holes for our future enjoyment. 

Interestingly the first book in the series The Bat Man which was originally published in Norway in 1997 re-entered the Norwegian best seller lists earlier this year. The Bat Man won the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian crime novel, and the Glass Key for the Best Nordic crime novel of the year. 

The Harry Hole series books still to be translated into English are:

The Bat Man: number 1
The Cockroaches: number 2
The Redeemer: number 6
The Snowman: number 7

In my opinion Jo Nesbo has moved into the top spot in the hierarchy of European crime fiction writers because the three books that are available in English are all wonderful reads with fine translations from Don Bartlett. Let us hope he has the energy to translate the others for us.

Monday, August 18, 2008


My review of Donna Leon's The Girl of His Dreams has been posted on Euro Crime. In my opinion this book was a return to form by the American author, who has lived in Venice for over 20 years, and whose books have been translated into most languages except that of her hosts . 
Read my review here and another review by Petrona here.

This was a thought provoking book and the 'Girl' was a young member of the Roma community many of whom live in poverty in encampments on the outskirts of Italian cities allegedly sending their children out to beg rather than to school.

Unfortunately real life imitated fiction when the two bodies of Cristina Ibramovitc 12 and Viola Ibramovitc 11 were left on the beach at Torregevata, north of Naples while some holiday makers sunbathed. Others did offer assistance but a recent newspaper poll showed that about two thirds of Italians wanted gypsies expelled even if they held Italian passports. [see article from the Guardian

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I have now finished reading The Skull Mantra and I found it a very sad book not only because of the way Tibetans have become an oppressed minority in their own country but also because of how the Western world has paid so little attention to their plight.

'The streets seemed more Chinese than Tibetan, and with a pang of sorrow as sharp as a blade Shan remembered why. Beijing had 'naturalized' the city by shipping in a hundred thousand Chinese to join the fifty thousand Tibetans already living there.'

Like the huge highly organized displays of  their citizens the destruction of the written word seems another constant activity in totalitarian regimes.

'For the Red Guards who invaded the Potala during the Cultural Revolution nothing had symbolized the Four Olds better than these manuscripts. They made a public display of destroying the volumes on the temple grounds, ripping many into pieces which were sent for use in the Red Guard latrines.' 

The more I read the novel the closer became the analogy between the regimes of Berlin 1936 and Beijing 2008. 

The Skull Mantra was an excellent read with perhaps just a bit too much detail for my elderly brain to absorb, but it was yet another fine example of how crime fiction can be used as an educational tool. 

Friday, August 15, 2008


I was not surprised at the stunning opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics after all totalitarian regimes do mass displays very well and so what if some of the fireworks were computer generated.  
Appearance and creating the perfect impression is everything and we had the spectacle of the pretty Lin Miaoke miming the words of Ode to the Motherland which was being sung by the less pretty [in the eyes of the officials] Yang Peiji. 

I am reading The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison which as well as being a very good detective story is also a fascinating source of information about Tibet and its Buddhist culture. The book contains predictably a  damning indictment of  China's human rights abuses especially in relation to Tibet. 

'Suicide was a grave sin , certain to bring reincarnation as a lower life form. But opting for life on four legs could be a tempting alternative to life on two in a Chinese hard labor brigade.'

Shan, the last honest man in Beijing, was an investigator who got too close to ministerial corruption and found himself in the People's 404th Construction Brigade in Tibet. Here he explains to Colonel Tan how a murder investigation is carried out:

'Where does the investigation start?'
'The weapon. Match it to the wound.'
'No. The closet. Always look in the closet. In the old days you looked for hidden books. Books in English. Western music. Today you look for the opposite. Old boots and threadbare clothes hidden away with a book of the chairman's sayings. In case of a new resurgence of party enforcement. Either way it shows reactionary doubts about socialist progress.'

When a well dressed headless corpse is discovered by the prisoners of the 404th Shan is ordered to become an investigator once again and delve into a world of Tibetan sorcerers, Buddhist resistance, official corruption and a beautiful auburn haired American mining engineer. Guarded by Sergeant Feng and with the assistance of Yeshe, a former monk, he must tread very carefully to find the murderer and at the same time protect the lives of his fellow prisoners of the 404th. 

What is surprising and very enjoyable about The Skull Mantra  is that Eliot Pattison has been able to introduce so much subtle humour into such a serious subject.

'I had the honour of teaching a course with a professor of forensic medicine at Bei Dad, he said. 'Just a two week seminar, really. Investigation Technique in the Socialist Order.'
Your skills have served you well,' She seemed unable to resist sarcasm.

'Someone said my technique involved too much investigation, not enough of the socialist order.'    

This book  was the beginning of a series about Shan Tao Yun, and won Eliot Pattison the Edgar award for the Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


A brilliantly bubbly and enthusiastic review here of Johan Theoren's Echoes From The Dead by the erudite and knowledgeable Crimeficreader confirms my own view that this is the book that sets the standard for translated crime fiction in 2008.
It is well written reviews like this and Petrona's here that show up my own amateur efforts. 

I was just thinking that Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and Johan Theoren's grey power terrier Gerlof Davidsson would be some investigative team.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I have recently been dipping into a non-fiction book with the title The Breaking Point which could apply appropriately to a lot of situations. At various times over the past few weeks I have shared the house with Mrs Crime Scraps, her granddaughter, her daughter and her 97 year old mother so my copy of The Breaking Point is definitely not about the female midlife crisis. 

Perhaps I should write about the male mid terrace crisis, that difficult 'breaking point' when you realise you need a bigger house.

I have finished reading a book set in Cadiz during 1944 that seemed to be a 'literary' spy thriller. 'Literary' means you don't enjoy reading it. 
The main protagonist indulges in a lot of meaningless conversation but otherwise does very little except vomit, have sex, and murder someone. 
Anyway my disenchanted review, I had reached my 'breaking point', will possibly appear on Euro Crime closer to the publication date.

I found my copy of The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Murder of Jose Robles by Stephen Koch in the excellent Harlequin Bookshop in Totnes. 

This non-fiction story has more excitement, more tension and of course more great characters than the aforementioned 'spy thriller' even in just its first thirty pages.

After Robles was taken away, they -whoever "they" were- held him briefly in Valencia.
And then for reasons that even now remain totally obscure, and always working in complete secrecy, this squad without a name took Jose Robles Pazos to some unknown place , where, acting without any inquiry or any trial or any legal proceedings whatsoever, they blew out his brains. 

I have also started reading the superb The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison as my designated reading for the Beijing Olympics. More on that later......

Sunday, August 10, 2008


My review of The Sun King Rises  by Yves Jego and Denis Lepee has been posted on Euro Crime here

This book is a story of power politics in seventeenth century France that was rather disappointing. Which I suppose is no surprise as power politicians promise the earth and fail to deliver both in seventeenth century France and most twenty first century democracies. 
The novel is set in 1661 and I know Cardinal Richelieu died in 1642, but I did not have a book about Cardinal Mazarin his successor. 
Richelieu was the man who made France the great power in Europe, and not Nicholas Sarkozy as has been suggested by the gorgeous latest model Madame Sarkozy. 

Friday, August 08, 2008


Having had my socks blown off by Echoes From the Dead by Johan Theoren I have been a bit slow in mentioning that my review has been posted on Eurocrime here

Last year Echoes From The Dead originally published in Swedish as Skumtimmen won the Basta Svenska Debut.
This was the best crime fiction novel I have read so far this year and I can't wait for more stories from the Baltic island of Oland.


Thanks are due to The Rap Sheet for the information that Barbara Fister, the mastermind behind the Carnival of Criminal Minds has created a new website devoted to Scandinavian Crime Fiction. 
Barbara said that 'since I work at a Swedish heritage college in Minnesota with a Scandinavian studies program, I thought we had an obligation to host a site for Scandinavian crime fiction."

You can view Barbara's site here and you will find lots of links to interesting articles and reviews. There is also a companion blog here. 
The  start up funding for the project was provided by a Research Scholarship and Creativity grant from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, and Barbara also thanks the encyclopedic Karen Meek 'whose Eurocrime website was an invaluable resource'.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


At the moment I am reading The Maze of Cadiz by Aly Monroe and my review will be posted on Euro Crime in due course.

I will be starting The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison hopefully just in time for the opening ceremony of the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games. 
Oops sorry that's what comes of reading too many Philip Kerr novels, of course I meant the Beijing 2008 Olympics. 

The blurbs on The Skull Mantra look interesting...

'Does for Tibet what Gorky Park did for Russia. A colourful moving portrayal of a strange and complex Tibet under an iron fist.'  Portsmouth Herald

I think we can predict that not many athletes will be taking The Skull Mantra to Beijing as reading material. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


In Stieg Larssson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland,  Mikael Blomkvist has been convicted of libelling billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerstrom, and his magazine Millenium is struggling to stay afloat.

Lisbeth Salander is a difficult young woman with rare gifts who earns a living working for Dragan Armansky's investigative agency. She is pierced, tattooed, sometimes violent, socially inadequate and protected as a ward of court by Sweden's guardianship laws. 

When Henrik Vanger, elderly CEO of the Vanger Corporation, revives the hunt for his niece Harriet who disappeared 40 years ago from secluded Hedeby Island he asks Mikael to leave Milennium in the hands of his partner and  part time lover Erika Berger and investigate the eccentric Vanger family. 

Mikael will eventually team up with Lisbeth to uncover some very nasty secrets and an appalling family history.

You can read two excellent reviews of this book by very knowledgeable bloggers here and here.

I am still confused by my reaction to this book which has received both critical praise and been the beneficiary of an impressive marketing campaign. It seems that virtually everyone in Sweden  has read the book and here the price has been heavily discounted by both Amazon and Sainsbury, with the result that it is the number one paperback best seller in Sainsbury's Exeter Pinhoe branch.
But interestingly The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed to win the CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger when the clear favourite being beaten by the Lorraine Connection written by Dominique Manotti which I reviewed here

I must admit I find it difficult to be critical of an author who worked so hard against racism, violence against women and right wing extremism and who died so tragically young but to be honest I was slightly disappointed by the book. Of course after all the ballyhoo and build up perhaps this was inevitable.

Large parts of the first half of the book are very turgid and reading it is like struggling through a deep snowdrift. We are presented with large amount of information about the various members of the Vanger family who are card board cut out stereotypes with for example the Nazi lunatic, the spoilt rich bitch, the kind elderly uncle, the loyal family lawyer and so on. 
Stieg Larsson takes fifty pages to give us information that more experienced authors would cover in one or two paragraphs. He revels in petty detail and description of financial dealings. We are told over and over by the each of extended Vanger clan that poor old Henrik is obsessed with finding Harriet's murderer. 
The mystery is not that mysterious as we can work out the solution quite early in the proceedings as Mikael delves into the photographic evidence from the day of the disappearance which was also  the day of an accident on the bridge isolating the island from the town of Hedestad. You did not need to be a super detective to know what is going on when the Swedish title is translated as Men Who Hate Women.

I am used to reading Swedish crime fiction with the slow detailed build ups and the systematic police procedural investigations but this novel took it to an extreme.

There was an excellent 400 page novel in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it is a pity that no one dissected it out from the all the padding and extraneous detail. Stieg Larsson appeared to want to attack too many targets in one book, financial journalists, fascists, violent men, the wealthy and that lead to what was in my opinion the excessive length of the book.

Then why despite all my reservations did I finish reading this book with a feeling that I had enjoyed it and that I wanted to read the next book in the series The Girl Who Played With Fire. 
Well the book did improve as it went along and Stieg Larsson for all my criticisms created in Lisbeth Salander one of the most interesting characters in modern crime fiction.
Lisbeth Salander the tattooed pierced truculent computer expert, who rides a motor bike, lives among chaos and is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 
She is the reason I left feeling I had enjoyed this book and that I will return to this series to see how she copes with life's vicissitudes.

'......introverted, socially inhibited, lacking in empathy, ego-fixated, psychopathic and asocial behaviour.............."

'You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that these events were somehow were related. There had to be a skeleton in one of their cupboards, and Salander loved hunting skeletons.'..............

'She went into the living room and found an anorexically thin girl sitting on the sofa, wearing a worn jacket and with her feet propped up on the coffee table. At first she thought she was about fifteen, but that was before she looked into her eyes.' 

The Girl Who Played With Fire is due to be published in English in January 2009. 

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Stieg Larsson was a Swedish writer and journalist who was born in Vasterbotten in northern Sweden in 1954. 
He was brought up by his grandparents in the countryside near Norsjo, a small community about 100km north of Umea.
Prior a sudden heart attack which caused his death at the very young age of 50 he was active in the fight against racism. He helped start the 'Stop the Racism' anti-violence project in the 1980s, and formed the Expo-foundation in 1995. The Expo-foundation, and the magazine Expo of which Larsson became chief editor, were dedicated to studying and mapping  anti-democratic and right wing extremist and racist tendencies in society. 
Stieg Larsson was also interested in science fiction and was chairman of the Scandinavian science fiction society. He regarded the Millennium trilogy as his 'pension insurance' but surely could never have predicted the tremendous success it has achieved.

He has won the Basta Svenska Kriminalroman in 2006 for Flickan som lekte med elden [The Girl who Played with Fire due for publication in English in January 2009]. Previous winners have included Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser, and Kjell Eriksson.

He has also won the Glasnyckeln, the Nordic Glass Key Award, in 2006 for Man Som Hatar Kvinor given the softer English title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It seems that he may have won the Glass Key for 2008 as well with the third novel in the trilogy Luftslottet Som Sprandes [Castles in the Sky the provisional title and due for publication in English in January 2010].

Previous winners of the Glass Key have included Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, Hakan Nesser and Arnaldur Indridason so Stieg Larsson's books are in excellent company. 

Much of this information was obtained from the Stieg Larsson website here but a friendly warning if you visit the website.  
The books are to be made into a movie series and there are photographs of the actors who are to play the lead parts of Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander on the website. The actress scheduled to play Lisbeth is too old, too tall, too well built, too beautiful and not nearly as vulnerable as the character was described in the book. I have had to expunge this photograph from my memory cells as I continue to read the book.

I am over half way through The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and a review will follow some time next week.