|Lars Kepler (aka Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandre Coelho)|
Swedish mysteries/thrillers are currently enjoying exceptional popularity with international audiences. The trend began in the 1960s and 70s with the ten-novel Report of a Crime series by the husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö who used the crime genre to undertake a forensic examination of the dream of social democracy in Swedish society. Henning Mankell, who has publicly acknowledged his debt to Sjöwall and Wahlöö, continued in that vein during the 1990s with his Kurt Wallander novels whereby he revealed Sweden to be increasingly racist, xenophobic and intolerant of immigrants. Building on his experience as a crusading journalist who exposed far right organizations in Swedish society, Stieg Larsson brought this tradition to fruition with his Millennium trilogy that laid bare the corrupt underpinnings of government agencies. In the process, he introduced a new type of character into crime fiction: a damaged, brutalized young woman with no social skills but who possessed extraordinary computer skills and knew how to exact revenge on those who perpetrated violence against women. Despite some turgid writing, much inferior to that of Mankell, he achieved vast commercial success with his three mass-market blockbuster thrillers that led to Swedish film adaptations and a superior American remake of the first novel. One result of the Larsson phenomenon is that other writers have abandoned the social criticism and returned to the police procedural with an eye to producing a book that can be adapted for an international audience.