The assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme obsessed Larsson for years – he even put several references to it in his novels. Do his secret files contain vital clues?
Fri 20 Sep 2019
On a snowy March day five years ago, I was waiting in my old, square Volvo outside a rented storage facility on the outskirts of Stockholm. I knew what I was looking for, but didn’t really expect to find it. I had understood that Stieg Larsson’s real-life mission was to fight rightwing extremism and that his novels were a side project during the last four years of his life. But when the sheet-metal door rolled up and I found 20 cardboard boxes full of documents, newspaper cuttings and letters from his research, I knew that I had found a treasure trove that would determine the course of my life for years to come.
I was thrown into a world that was dangerously close to Larsson’s fiction. It took me to forgotten towns and mansions in the deep forests of Sweden but also to London, Northern Cyprus and South Africa. I met spies, murderers, rightwing extremists and their victfiles. ims, characters as extraordinary as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Alexander Zalachenko. I even found a young woman who helped me access emails and mount an undercover operation on a suspect in a murder case. All to see if I could get closer to answering Larsson’s driving question: who murdered the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme in February 1986? Palme was shot in the back while walking home from the cinema with his wife along Stockholm’s main street. Eight years after I started my journey, I am convinced that the who, how and why of Palme’s assassination does indeed lie in Larsson’s theory.
Back in 1986, Larsson worked at Sweden’s largest news agency. He dreamed of becoming a reporter but was too appreciated as an illustrator to get a real chance of writing. He spent his free time researching the rightwing networks of Sweden, often working with his life partner Eva Gabrielsson. His role model was Gerry Gable, editor-in-chief of the UK-based Searchlight magazine, which is still a thorn in the side of extremist movements all over Europe.m