How a diplomat and journalist used Stieg Larsson’s lost files to hunt Swedish PM Olof Palme’s murderer

In The Man Who Played With Fire, Jan Stocklassa collects the pieces of Millennium series author Stieg Larsson’s lost archives to follow a trail of intrigue, espionage, and conspiracy.

Any book lover who digs mystery, action and thrills would surely have read the Millennium series by Swedish author Stieg Larsson.

A Swedish journalist and writer, his trilogy was published posthumously, and adapted as three motion pictures in Sweden and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the US. As a journalist, he covered socialist politics and was an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.

While Larsson died, he had been working on a true mystery: the assassination of Olof Palme, the Swedish Prime Minister. He had been shot at point-blank range and the mystery of who did it remained so for a long time.

For many years, Larsson had been collecting evidence that linked terrorist acts to the murder. His archives were forgotten until Jan Stocklassa was given exclusive access to the author’s secret project. This led to the book, The Man who Played with Fire, a mystery he set out to solve.

In an interview with YSWeekender, Jan Stocklassa talks about the investigation into a crime that baffled the world, and navigating the murky world of international politics.

YSWeekender: Please tell us about your life, and your work?

Jan Stocklassa: I’m an architect by education, but by stroke of luck or coincidence I have changed my profession several times. I served six years as Commercial Counsellor for Sweden which led me to write my first book Caught by Prague after which I realised that Swedish weapon manufacturer Saab was involved in corruption together with British BAe while selling supersonic fighters to the Czech Republic. Since then, I became an investigative journalist and writer, focusing on unsolved murder cases in international politics. 

YSW: What prompted you to take up Steig Larsson's work?

JS: I was doing research for my second book when by coincidence, I found a paper written by Stieg Larsson on the murder of our Prime Minister Olof Palme. A few months later, I found the whole private archive and it turned out that he had come close to solving the case before he died. 

YSW: What interested you about the assassination of Olof Palme?

JS: His theory was that it was not a single looney who killed our Prime Minister back in 1986, but a conspiracy led from South Africa. Only recently, has the police the police confirmed that it wasn’t the gunman only and they have started to investigate Stieg Larsson’s and my leads to the solution.

YSW: What exactly have you tried to bring forth regarding the assassination in the book?

JS: It’s about telling the true story of how world-famous crime writer, Stieg Larsson, who has sold more than 100 million books after his death, almost solved the murder of our Prime Minister. Ten years after his death, another writer, goes after the murder and finds him. 

YSW: How difficult was it to pick up the threads from where he left them?

JS: My book is non-fiction, which is not the case with Stieg Larsson’s, but my goal has been to write in a similar style so you can follow the murder case right to the solution. I hope I have succeeded, which can be shown by the fact that it has been translated to 27 languages and sold in more than 300,000 copies.

YSW: How did you navigate the murky world of international politics - especially with both your books?

JS: I tried to use some of the methods of Stieg Larsson, which include hacking computers and undercover operations. I also tried to be inspired by his courage. And towards the end of the book I found my own heroine who helped me in a way that is quite similar to Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander from his novels. 

YSW: What has been readers' response to the books?

JS: I’m overwhelmed. I have received so many excellent reviews in the media but what makes me even more happy is that a lot of private citizens take the time to write to me. Sometimes, only to tell me how much they like the book, but quite often also with tips to add to the solution of the murder. I truly believe that quite soon we will know exactly how Olof Palme was murdered. 

YSW: Do you have any other books in the offing?

JS: Three years ago, I came to Goa to start writing The Man who Played with Fire without having a publisher and now it’s an international success. Now I have come back to start writing my next book about another murder in the same period of time. Why change a winning concept?


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