In the each of the novels that comprise the Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larsson makes special efforts to promote female heroines: strong, competent female professionals (attorneys, police personnel, editors), great women in history (from Boudicca, the Celtic Queen who stood up to the Romans, to the “Black Amazons” of Dahomey), and women writers and artists. Two of Larsson’s favorite female crime writers, both of whom he mentioned in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, are Val McDermid and Sara Paretsky. Both authors have new books that came out this week in the U.S.
In our book, The Tattooed Girl, we include several essays discussing the science fiction and crime writers Larsson admired and how he learned from them and alluded to them in his own fiction. He apparently even helped introduce Val McDermid to the Swedish market.
According to Stieg’s lifelong friend and co-editor of The Tattooed Girl, John-Henri Holmberg, Stieg’s “personal favorites included Liza Cody, Patricia Cornwell, Val McDermid, and Sara Paretsky. He also liked Laurie King’s Kate Martinelli novels and Carol O’Connell’s Kathy Mallory novels. In crime fiction, just as in science fiction, Stieg on the whole preferred female authors and female protagonists to male, and during the 1980s, women began making a strong showing in the previously male-dominated hardboiled crime fiction field, just as they had done in science fiction during the 1970s.”
Sara Paretsky’s Breakdown is the next in a long series of Paretsky novels featuring her signature character, V.I. Warshawski, who first appeared 30 years ago. Larsson liked Paretsky for her fearlessness, her smart political point of view, and her tough female private investigator, Warshawski, who was a transformational female character in crime fiction long before Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander appeared on the world stage. Warshawski brings a gritty, noir Chicago to life in much the same way Larsson brings Stockholm to life.
According to the pre-publication publicity, Breakdown features a character named Salanter (quite similar to Larsson’s Salander—although Paretsky’s character is apparently an elderly survivor of Nazi-occupied Lithiuania, not a young female computer hacker): “Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago’s Carmilla Club hold an initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying. The girls include daughters of some of Chicago’s most powerful families: The grandfather of one, Chaim Salanter, is one of the world’s wealthiest men; the mother of another, Sophy Durango, is the Illinois Democratic candidate for Senate. For V. I. Warshawski, the questions multiply faster than the answers. Is the killing linked to a hostile media campaign against Sophy Durango? Or to Chaim Salanter’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Lithuania? As V.I. struggles for answers, she finds herself fighting enemies who are all too human.” For more info on Sara Paretsky: http://www.saraparetsky.com/.
Meanwhile, the Scottish writer Val McDermid, another of Larsson’s much loved female crime writers, also has a new caper coming our way in January: The Retribution.
Her publisher tells us: “Val McDermid is a world-class crime writer whose books have sold millions worldwide. She is back with a chilling, high-velocity thriller featuring her immensely popular creations, clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill and detective Carol Jordan. Tony Hill has had a good run. He and detective Carol Jordan have put away scores of dangerous criminals at a rate that colleagues envy. But there is one serial killer who has shaped and defined their careers, and whose evil surpasses all others: Jacko Vance, ex-celebrity and sociopath whose brilliance and utter lack of remorse have never left Tony’s mind in the ten years since his imprisonment. Now Jacko has escaped from prison—even more twisted and cunning than before, he is focused on wreaking revenge on Tony and Carol for his years spent in prison.Tony and Carol don’t know when Jacko will strike, or where. All they know is that Jacko will cause them to feel fear like they’ve never known. A chilling, utterly gripping tour de force, The Retribution is the ideal introduction or re-introduction to the world of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. It is an unforgettable read.” For more info on Val McDermid: http://www.valmcdermid.com/.