Before Stieg Larsson

By Maryann Yin Comment

roseanna.gifThere is no doubt that Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy is the book blockbuster of the summer. Fans who have already devoured all three books need not fret because there is a wonderful series available to feed their crime mystery needs. Today The Book Beast looked at a writing team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo–dark crime authors writing years before Larsson.

Wahloo enjoyed an established career as a crime reporter and novelist. Sjowall, ten years his junior, worked as a journalist, but was only a novice in fiction writing. Together, Sjowall and Wahloo wrote The Story of a Crime series. It is a ten-book story arc following Martin Beck, police detective. Sarah Weinman writes about the protagonist: “[He] doesn’t charm anyone, is prone to indecision about his personal life, and has depressive tendencies. But what makes him an outstanding detective is his quiet doggedness, and his ability to circle again and again on the most minute details until the pearl of a clue is given up like the proverbial oyster.”

Two spooky coincidences are found in both the Scandinavian couple and Larsson. First, that Martin Beck’s story prominently features an abused woman. Larsson’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander endured rape and physical brutality from a guardian. Second, the Martin Beck authors never married legally; their relationship is publicly viewed as a common law marriage. When Wahloo passed away from cancer in 1975, that thwarted the legal possibility of Sjowall receiving royalties for the publications.

Much in the same fashion, Larsson never married his partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson. His trilogy was published posthumously after he died of a massive heart attack at age 50. Now Gabrielsson battles with Larsson’s father and brother over the rights to control his work.