Writing a sequel to the Millennium Trilogy left David Lagercrantz in a quandary, says Andy Martinby Andy Martin / June 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
“What are we supposed to do with all the money?”
I should stress that David Lagercrantz only sounded like a character out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. He hadn’t robbed a bank. Instead he had recently published The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the sequel to Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium Trilogy. We were having dinner at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, cracking open a bottle of champagne to toast his success. But Lagercrantz is more ambivalent than appearances might indicate. Although his sequel has been a success in commercial terms, he has been attacked by Swedish literary figures. Henning Mankell said that he had “betrayed literature,” while others have accused him of being a “monster plundering a grave.” Lagercrantz, now working on a new Larsson novel, feels a little like a pop star who can’t quite work out why he has become so immensely popular—and unpopular—overnight.
Contemporary crime writing has recently taken a strong swerve towards Nordic Noir. In Scandinavian social democracies, as crime statistics have gone down, the popularity of “crime”—the genre that is—has gone up. In Norway, they have just finished shooting The Snowman, based on Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole novel. Snow is good for showing up blood, of which there is plenty in Nesbo’s world. In Copenhagen, the Danish capital, it’s all about the television series The Bridge and Forbrydelsen (shown in the UK as The Killing but which should really be translated as Crime). Meanwhile Stockholm is also home to the creator of Intercrime (as shown on BBC4), Arne Dahl. This story begins with Stieg Larsson. Or maybe before that with Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö back in the 1960s, and their police procedural Martin Beck series (Roseanna, The Laughing Policeman) and, later, with Henning Mankell and his more provincial Inspector Wallander. But Larsson streaked past them all. There is a theory that the enormous success of his Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) owes a lot to the death of the author. Larsson finished the books, signed a publishing deal, and then promptly dropped dead aged 50 after walking up seven flights of stairs. It was a brilliant piece of inadvertent self-publicity.