I got Dan Brown, I really did. The history was bunk, the prose was Lego, and yet there was something there — that maddening, tantalizing what’s-going-to-happen-next — that kept me turning, turning, turning the pages deep into the night. By contrast, the success of Stieg Larsson, the Swedish thriller writer, who would — had he not died tragically young (only 50) in 2004, leaving just three (completed) novels behind — now be seen as a challenger to the impious Mr. Brown, leaves me more than a little amazed.
Collectively known as the Millennium trilogy, those three books have together sold over 30 million copies worldwide and quite a few bytes beside: Larsson is the first author to be downloaded over a million times on Kindle. Each installment has been made into a movie in Sweden. The first two films (I haven’t seen the third) were characterized by fine acting, land-of-Bergman pacing, and, of course, land-of-Bergman language, a tough sell anywhere much south of Malmö. Sure enough, a Hollywood remake is on the way, complete with James Bond, well, Daniel Craig, as Mikael “Kalle” Blomkvist, Larsson’s journalist-hero, and, for that matter, Larsson’s fantasy Larsson.