When Fiction Meets Fact: Stieg Larsson & Olof Palme

Olaf Palme

Prime Minister Olof Palme Photograph:John Wahlbaerj/EPA

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, gunned down on a Stockholm street by an unknown assailant as he walked home from the movies with his wife. Although one man was convicted of the crime, he was later released on appeal, and the case remains unsolved. Now a Swedish newspaper reports that Stieg Larsson, the late best-selling author of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and an investigative journalist specializing in extremist right-wing groups, left 15 boxes of files connected to his own probe into the crime. His suspect: Bertil Wedin, a Swede with ties to apartheid-era South African security forces. The left-wing Palme was a vocal critic of the white South African regime.


Author Stieg Larsson

While police say Wedin is not a suspect, the newspaper’s own investigation pulled up another name,  identifying Alf Enerström, a doctor and right-wing opponent of Palme. Enerström, who could have stepped out of a Larsson crime novel, spent time in a psychiatric hospital after shooting a policewoman and was investigated closely by the police but always maintained an alibi that his then-partner now disputes.

Whether or not Larsson’s findings prove correct, the unsolved murder remains a tantalizing and perssonhaunting  puzzle for Swedish writers to try to solve. Just published this month is Leif G.W. Persson’s Free Falling, As If in a Dream: The Story of a Crime, the final volume in a trilogy exploring the Palme assassination and its aftermath. Reviewer David Keymer praises Persson’s “meticulous reconstruction of the investigation of a highly sensitive case, long since past but now reopened. More than any other series of police procedurals today, Persson’s exceptional novels show how cops actually pursue a difficult investigation, the thousands of steps and missteps that occur en route.”


Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams (wwilliams@mediasourceinc.com) is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.