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Why do journalists make such great fiction writers? The answer lies in five simple words – principles really – the 5Ws. Who? What? Why? Where? When? The most brilliant recent example of this is the best-selling Millennium Trilogy by Swedish journalist-turned-fiction- writer Stieg Larsson, now deceased. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played with Fire. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Intrigued?

Who?

Larsson’s unlikely heroine – a tiny, tattooed, techno geek called Lisbeth Salendar –immediately piques one’s curiosity. Mix in an intense investigative journalist, Carl Mikael Blomkvist (himself?), who knows no boundaries in turning over stones. Blend in criminals, spies and gangs in plots that twist and turn, and you are hooked.

by Stieg Larsson

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What?

The Trilogy sees the unlikely duo working in tandem, often virtually, to unravel murder mysteries, political plots and subversive Swedish authorities. The parallels to the decades-old unsolved murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme make it hard to see a clear divide between fact and fiction. This blurring is a big draw; I read all three back-to-back.

Why?

The trilogy begins with ‘Tattoo, where Blomkvist and Salendar meet to solve a decades-old missing girl story. One mystery gives birth to another, and in ‘Fire, Salendar’s disappearance leads the ever-inquisitive journalist down another path. It all comes to a head in ‘Hornet’s Nest. Or does it? Each one begins with you asking why and then ends with another unanswered question, leaving you craving more.

Where?

The story behind the stories is just as intriguing. Stieg Larsson, Swedish journalist-turned- fiction-writer, died without a will shortly after giving manuscripts to his publisher. His family is now preventing his long-time partner from publishing the fourth novel, which she possesses on his computer. Sweden is now firmly on the minds of millions of readers and on the literary global map.

When?

Sadly, Larsson’s mysteries will remain unsolved – despite an insatiable global appetite. The prolonged publishing rights battle means we will have to be satisfied with movie versions – for the time being.

KeyCast – video and podcast on Key Advice – Showreel.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Originally published in Sweden by Norstedt Agency and translated by Reg Keeland

Translated versions

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest

Published in GB 2008, 2009, 2010 by MacLehose Press

Award winning

*Title spellings change with publishers.


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