I assumed as I was reading them that Stieg Larsson had used the "Millennium" novels as vehicles for material he had uncovered as a journalist that for one reason or another he was not able to publish as non-fiction. This extract, from an essay by Christopher Hitchens reprinted in a new book, supports that view:
The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time (Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer and John-Henri Holmberg)
- Highlight Loc. 567-83 | Added on Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 07:23 AM
A report in the mainstream newspaper Aftonbladet describes the findings of another anti-Nazi researcher, named Bosse Schön, who unraveled a plot to murder Stieg Larsson that included a Swedish SS veteran. Another scheme misfired because on the night in question, 20 years ago, he saw skinheads with bats waiting outside his office and left by the rear exit. Web sites are devoted to further speculation: one blog is preoccupied with the theory that Prime Minister Palme’s uncaught assassin was behind the death of Larsson too. Larsson’s name and other details were found when the Swedish police searched the apartment of a Fascist arrested for a political murder. Larsson’s address, telephone number, and photograph, along with threats to people identified as “enemies of the white race,” were published in a neo-Nazi magazine: the authorities took it seriously enough to prosecute the editor.
But Larsson died of an apparent coronary thrombosis, not from any mayhem. So he would have had to be poisoned, say, or somehow medically murdered. Such a hypothesis would point to some involvement “high up,” and anyone who has read the novels will know that in Larsson’s world the forces of law and order in Sweden are fetidly complicit with organized crime. So did he wind up, in effect, a character in one of his own tales?
The people who might have the most interest in keeping the speculation alive—his publishers and publicists—choose not to believe it. “Sixty cigarettes a day, plus tremendous amounts of junk food and coffee and an enormous workload,” said Christopher MacLehose, Larsson’s literary discoverer in English and by a nice coincidence a publisher of Flashman, “would be the culprit. I gather he’d even had a warning heart murmur. Still, I have attended demonstrations by these Swedish right-wing thugs, and they are truly frightening. I also know someone with excellent contacts in the Swedish police and security world who assures me that everything described in the ‘Millennium’ novels actually took place. And, apparently, Larsson planned to write as many as 10 in all. So you can see how people could think that he might not have died but been ‘stopped.’”
UPDATE: Elsewhere in the same volume, one of Larsson's oldest friends, John-Henri Holmberg (they were boy science fiction fans together), explains that the "emotion free sex" in the novels should be seen as a direct extension of his anarchist absolutism on the subject of personal liberty:
...those who believe in the equal rights and value of all individuals must never overstep the boundaries set by each individual’s right to integrity, free choice, and personal preference. This demands that all relations between individuals are based on mutual consent, choice, and desire. In such relations, there is no room to express feelings of ownership, control, or jealousy, physically or emotionally. Which means that between free agents who feel that way, sex is a value in itself, to be accepted when mutually desired, but implying no claim on any participant. To Stieg, this view was basic, and it permeates his writing.
Throughout the Millennium books, this is how the “good” characters—Lisbeth Salander, Mikael Blomkvist, Erika Berger and her husband Greger, Miriam Wu, Monica Figuerola, and many others—consistently behave. They have sex freely when they feel like it, but it involves no claims or dependencies. Whereas sex to the “bad” characters always involves submission and degradation; to them, convinced of their inherent superiority, sex is not an act of mutual pleasure, but of violence and domination, and consequently of hatred. Many passages relevant to this view of sex and relationships have been deleted [by the Swedish editors]. One example is around 270 words long, which, in Stieg’s manuscript, begins chapter 18 of book 3. Mikael Blomkvist wakes up after spending his first night with Monica Figuerola. He has slept only three hours and aches all over. Monica, on the other hand, is in great shape: “Her body was her temple.” Mikael asks her if all muscular women are as dominant. Monica says that she doesn’t know, and pays him a compliment: “I might want to do it again one of these days.”