Larsson Tour

Despite widespread acclaim Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is not everyone’s idea of a great read. I noticed recently that Danny Morrison rubbished the books. Morrison, himself a novelist and one time student of the 19th Century French novel at the Open University, knows a thing or two about the novel genre and brings this knowledge to bear on Larsson’s output. But ultimately novel reading is a matter of personal taste and it is clear that there is a great taste out there for the Millennium Trilogy.

In the company of my wife I made our maiden trip to Stockholm in October. Among the reasons we chose to visit the city was our shared passion for the characters and plots created and devised by the late Larsson who died shortly after delivering his manuscripts. A campaigning journalist he was already well known before the blaze of publicity his trilogy ignited. He did sterling work with his pen and made many enemies on the Swedish extreme right whose penchant for neo Nazism bristled with hostile indignation towards Larsson. Yet it will be for his great fiction rather than his Marxist politics that the name Stieg Larsson will resonate in the international cultural milieu.

On a very cold Saturday morning we disembarked from a taxi driven by a scam merchant who sought to fleece us but whose only return was a slightly larger than normal tip, courtesy of my wife’s eagerness to be rid of the pest. Having seen him off, we made our way to the assembly point for the start of the official Stieg Larsson tour, the apartment where one of Larsson’s principal character’s, Michael Blomqvist, lived out his fictional existence. We met a German mother and daughter but our small team of Millennium aficionados quickly grew into a colourful crew of people from a range of backgrounds, Iceland, England, America among them. We even met a woman from Dublin, just down the road from where we live. The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest had certainly created a buzz. Our multi national taskforce set out on its cold journey.

Our guide shared her group’s passion for Larsson’s work which added vibrancy to her walk and talk performance. Each question from our midst was answered with assuredness. She had done it all before but came to the task with freshness and did not take her audience for granted. There was a good rapport between her and us which allowed for a probing of themes, during which she sought to draw out our own knowledge on the topic.

I suppose to many, the idea of trudging the cold streets of Stockholm in pursuit of fictional knowledge appears off the wall. Each to their own. It was surreal for sure, visiting the coffee shops, offices and apartments where Larsson’s central characters lived, loved, worked and played. It was certainly not some form of secular pilgrimage, where the need for make believe helped to compensate for a void in our lives. It was no different from what so many others on holidays do. People do day trips to Barcelona or Berlin and get a feel for the things that have interested them. We knew Lizbeth Salander never actually lived in the massive apartment we stood outside. We knew that Lizbeth Salander in fact never lived at all. But the real engages with the unreal in a variety of ways that stimulate the senses and arouse the intellect. Without the unreal the real would make for an existence of stultifying boredom.

And to cap it all, once our tour ended I bid our guide adieu and lapsed back into addiction. I returned to our hotel room to finish the third in the Millennium trilogy.


  1. I *hated* those books. *Hated* I found them repulsive on all levels. As a quick aside, if that is what people think of a a 'modren feminist', one who adheres to too many male msyoginistic stereotypes to list (but I'll try a few: vunerable and available, bisexual, torture-able, tough, sassy...). I found it trite, badly translated? (as I can't say written, not reading the original) and sub-airport fodder.

    And I haven't even started on the tech.

    But yes, it is personal taste, and I am still a degenerate old elitist. But they still suck.

  2. Mackers
    i admire your willingness to venture forth to see what inspired your interest and imagination in fiction. After watching In Bruges i wanted to visit the place to see the streets and buildings and buy loads of chocolate for my mrs.
    Alas, there are many cities in Europe to visit and student finance is meagre, so its the wee flat in Spain for us.
    The only thing i can complain about here is..what the 'F' are these books about? Any chance of some insight?

  3. "what the 'F' are these books about? "


    Revenge and just desserts.


  4. cheers mick
    seeing different verdicts here but not much on content. I suppose like a La Care novel, you're guna get into the pace of it..'snail' or toss it out.

  5. Mackers, do you think it is sour grapes with the bold Dannny?
    No Morrison tour as yet, would a person survive it if there was?

  6. My wife, after being in the mid-300s in a queue for the print copy, waited months instead for an audiobook version from the library of the first volume. I heard a bit of it myself, and I found the recital of daily minutiae odd-- what characters bought, how long they drove to such and such, what they ate. Did you find such accumulation of data engrossing? The book seemed steady in pace, but the amount of trivial facts appeared to me likely weigh it down rather than quicken its step.

  7. Fionnchú,

    there was a tendency in the first one to go OTT in detail particularly around the Venger family. But it was a great read nonetheless. The following two were more pacy. But I loved them all. I read the first in Ireland the second in Spain and the third in Sweden!

  8. Larry,

    they are crime thrillers and the two same characters persist throughout the trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Found the character building outstanding.

  9. Nuala

    ‘do you think it is sour grapes with the bold Danny?’

    I don’t think t is. People either have a taste for these type of books or they don’t and we can’t be critical of them for their tastes. And he would approach novels in a particular way, having studied them. Did you read his Wrong Man? I thought it was very good. But then he only ever writes fiction.