You probably know little about Stieg Larsson, the Swedish writer who, in his brief 50 years on this planet, evolved from science-fiction buff to journalistic activism in his fearless coverage of his native land's white-supremacy movements. Maybe his pursuit of the latter led to his passing in 2004 from a heart attack.
Yet it's quite likely that you know quite a lot about Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, the two characters at the heart of an unforgettable trilogy of novels Larsson wrote, but never lived to see published into gigantic worldwide best-sellers.
In order, the books comprise of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. At present, I've raced through two of those books and, through that Kindle I just purchased, am now working on the third, eager to see how the whole thing ends.
Why the attraction? Well, it starts with the simple fact that Larsson was a fabulous writer, several cuts above the run-of-the-mill fiction that so dominates contemporary literature.
Maybe it helped that Larsson wasn't a famous author, or even a famous writer outside of Sweden, when he wrote his books. There was no need for him to fit into a mystery formula, nor was there outside pressure to come up with product that the masses could consume.
Larsson could take his time, and he used it well to create a palate full of memorable characters, at least two dozen in the first two books alone. He also forces you to pay attention to details along the way, and readers find themselves flipping back to other parts of the books to make the connections.
Of course, it is Blomkvist and Salander at the heart of all the action, even when they're not on the page you are reading. It all leads back to this unlikely duo.