THE MAN WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Jan Stocklassa

THE MAN WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE

Stieg Larsson's Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dense examination of a notorious political assassination, as initially sleuthed by popular crime novelist Stieg Larsson.

Swedish journalist Stocklassa’s meandering book has a convoluted backstory, beginning with the author’s access to the files of the Millennium trilogy author, who died in 2004. Prior to his literary career, Larsson was a prolific investigative journalist whose focus on the European extreme right led him to consider the unsolved 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. “After five years of research,” writes Stocklassa, “I found Stieg Larsson’s forgotten archives and stepped into a world of people and events that felt like they came right out of one of Stieg’s books.” Larsson’s correspondence and reportage, excerpted here, showed his distrust of official narratives, and he concluded that the chaotic initial investigation of Palme’s murder focused on either a lone, disturbed perpetrator or a Turkish insurgent group. This explanation elided the more likely scenario of a connection to Sweden’s far-right underground, in concert with South African security forces, who were irritated by Palme’s stance against the apartheid regime. Stocklassa initially imagines Larsson’s perspective on the increasingly opaque murder even as his literary career approached success right before his death: “A dream for many, but Stieg still wanted other things as well.” Stocklassa eagerly reanimated Larsson’s investigation, a pursuit that became “my obsession.” His efforts are credible and commendable, and he was able to speak to shady figures in South Africa and elsewhere, but the narrative wanders away from the initial sourcing in Larsson’s abandoned files. Stocklassa concludes with “a possible picture” of how the assassination occurred, “if, that is, Stieg’s theory was right.” However, he cannot fill in all the blanks, ruefully concluding, “like Stieg before me, I continue to tug on the strings that stick out from the ball of yarn that is the Palme assassination.” In making up for speculation, Stocklassa relies on an overly detailed, verbose, often digressive style.

A mostly engrossing but florid historical conspiracy, of most interest to Larsson fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5420-9293-7
Page count: 510pp
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019




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