I’ve been traveling most of the past eight weeks, and my schedule hasn’t allowed much free time to indulge in my favorite pastime—gliding in a hammock strung between two sturdy trees and reading a good book.
This past week changed all that. With no planned agenda, I spent the first two days of my trip doing nothing but lounging on a beanbag cushion and staring at the ocean.
I broke through this vegetative state on the afternoon of the third day by reaching into my tote bag to retrieve a novel I’d purchased at an airport bookstore on one of my recent trips. I don’t remember if the buy was made in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Boston and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The book got a lot of buzz when it was published in 2008, so I thought I’d give it a try.
On the beginning pages was a short paragraph about the author, stating he had died in 2004 shortly after submitting three manuscripts in a planned series, including the book I now held in my hand. How odd, I thought.
Intrigued, I searched the Internet and learned that author Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer who died of a massive heart attack in 2004 at age fifty. In 2008 his debut novel THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, which was published posthumously, made him the second-best selling author in the world, behind Afghani-American author Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner).
There was also a hint of intrigue surrounding Larsson's death. Not everybody believed he died of natural causes. Some thought his work and political convictions made him a target of foul play.
His political convictions, as well as his journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, similar to the British Searchlight Foundation, established to ‘expose racist and totalitarian organizations and tendencies’; he also became the editor of the foundation's magazine Expo. Larsson quickly became instrumental in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organizations; he was an influential debater, lecturer and self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on the subject, allegedly living for years under death threats from his political enemies.
Larsson drafted his will in 1977 but never had it witnessed, rendering it invalid under Swedish law. He apparently intended his assets to go to the Socialist Party but instead all of his estate, including royalties from his books, will go to his father and brother. His long-term partner Eva Gabrielsson will get exactly nothing.
According to this source:
The legal battle between Larsson’s girlfriend and his father and brother could have been plucked from the pages of his three crime novels and is stirring just as much passion in Sweden, where at least one in three people has read them.
So I picked up the book and started reading, and I couldn’t stop until I finished. There are 405 customer reviews of the paperback on Amazon. Read them or just take my word for it. On so many levels this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I'm off to buy the next installment in the series, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.
Have you read any good books this summer?