Nordic Thrillers

stieglarsson.jpgI love suspense novels, especially Nordic thrillers. Two of my favourite authors are Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indridason. The first one is Swedish whereas the other one is Icelandic.

Both writers feature a late middle-aged police officer who is tired of life, divorced and frustrated with the system he works for. Yet we cannot help feeling admiration for the stubbornness, honesty and sensitivity both men display while investigating a case.

This was until I discovered Stieg Larsson. The man is symply a genius, in fact it would be more appropriate to write that he was a genius since he died four years ago of a heart attack, he was only 50.

At the beginning of the 21st century he started writing detective novels at night just for fun. Apparently he enjoyed it so much that he didn’t contact a publisher until he had two finished novels and a third one under way. When he died, Larsson left three unpublished thrillers which have all been published posthumously: the Millennium series.

The first novel in the series is Män som hatar kvinnor (published in English in January 2008 as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,), the second, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played With Fire), the last one is Luftslottet som sprängdes (Castles in The Sky). The novels received rave reviews when they were published, in Sweden and elsewhere.

The series is so much unlike other thrillers I have read that I have chosen to post the synopsis of the first novel which I found on the Amazon.co.uk website rather than attempt to summarize the storyline. Besides I didn’t want to disclose too much of the plot:

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone in her own family – the deeply dysfunctional Vanger clan. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired to investigate, but when he links Harriet’s disappearance to a string of gruesome murders from forty years ago, he needs a competent assistant – and he gets one: computer hacker Lisbeth Salander – a tattoed, truculent, angry girl who rides a motorbike like a Hell’s Angel and handles makeshift weapons with the skill born of remorseless rage. This unlikely pair form a fragile bond as they delve into the sinister past of this island-bound, tightly-knit family. But the Vangers are a secretive lot, and Mikael and Lisbeth are about to find out just how far they’re prepared to go to protect themselves – and each other.

The three novels constitute a trilogy with the same protagonists. This series is brilliant, erudite and exciting. Above all, it is a reflection on today’s modern society and the choices we make or allow politicians to make for us.