Friday, August 7, 2009

A Swedish Detective Trilogy and Swedish Style

Do you know how with some books the world inhabited by the characters just wooshes into your head fully formed? Complete with smells, the food they eat, and the colour and look of their world. This happened for me in the very successful Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (the first two are pictured below).

Tragically Mr Larsson, a journalist, died suddenly of a heart attack just before these books were published. Briefly put the books focus on two main characters, a journalist and publisher Mikael Blomkvist, a rather charming, passionate and determined investigative journalist who has a series of complicated personal and business relationships weaving through his life. I somewhat suspect he resembles his creator in character at least. The other character is Lisbeth Salander, a very mysterious, highly intelligent, possibly mentally unwell young woman. How these two people meet and solve a mystery is the subject of the first book. The second deals with in part, the fall out from the first adventure, and creates a new one which has its origins all the way back in Lisbeth's childhood.

Now, getting back to my point about the world of the characters. These books evoke a most striking sense of place (Stockholm), right down to the light, the streetscapes and the food they eat. Forgive me for my gender bias, but the way Larsson gets under the skin of his female characters, and the attention to decor and styling details is most un boylike,

I have this habit (perhaps it is better described as a compulsion which I should be able to better control) where if I like a writer I have to go and read every single thing they have ever written. Imagine my annoyance that part 3 (The Girl Who Stepped in a Hornet's Nest) won't be published until October 2009 in English. But unless I can teach myself Swedish before then and read it in its original language I am pretty much stranded on the seas of the slow to respond UK publishing market.

Anyway, dragging myself back to the point, Stieg Larsson's attention to detail is especially true when it comes to the various apartments in which the key characters reside, in Lundagarten and Appelviken, and on Sodermalm Island and Hedeby Island and other suburbs of Stockholm. The images below reflect his descriptions.

This is where I think Erika Berger (the co-publisher of Millenium) would live with her artist husband.

This looks like Lisbeth's Ikea furnished apartment on Sodermalm Island.

This more expensively furnished room could be a room from Henrik Vanger's house on Hedeby Island.

And this is a man's bedroom if ever I saw it so I say it belongs to Mikael Blomkvist:

Get the books and read them, they are great. (Oh, and one more thing - don't think just because the author has an eye for nicely styled interiors that these are light hearted mystery stories with a flippant superficial tone. They are in my view classic detective novels which have a very dark undercurrent and seek to expose some serious deficiencies in Swedish society, government and policing. This makes them even more not less satisfying to read.)

(Images: (1) Verandah, (2) - (4) Sasha Waddell Design, (5) House to Home (6) Marie Claire Maison)


Lee said...

I loved the first two books, and like you, I am waiting with bated breath for the third book due in October. Great interpretation of what the rooms of the characters might be like! Lee :)

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

I keep getting told to read both of these!!! its a sign I am going to the library tomorrow!
... and jane- you are totally right- we do curse the city when we are there !

Mise said...

I love all that white furniture - it's such a self-effacing yet confident look; no drama, just daintiness and peace.

Dallas Shaw said...

love the seat in the 3rd room down. very cool


vicki archer said...

I have not read these books yet but I have the first on my bedside table...I can't wait to get into them especially now after reading your synopsis. Have a great Sunday evening....xv

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