Wednesday, 22 June 2016

In the Footsteps of Lisbeth Salander

If you asked me to pick the most memorable character in the crime fiction of the 21st century, then I don't think I'd look any further than Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. She is wholly distinctive and yet somehow very much in the tradition of the maverick detective. So during a brief trip to Stockholm from which I've just returned, I enjoyed making a pilgrimage to one of her favourite hang-outs, the old beer hall Kvarnen, which features in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And the food was excellent - they did a very good special meatballs dish, one of the local favourites.

Scandinavian noir fiction has been all the rage for more than a decade now, and yet Stockholm is a thriving and (at least from the perspective of a tourist) highly civilised city, not perhaps the most obvious setting for murder and mayhem. We were lucky to have a well informed guide, one Catherine Edwards, whose first job since graduating is as a journalist for The Local, based in Sweden.

This was my second trip to Stockholm, the first having been a one day stop during a Baltic capitals cruise, and the visit reinforced my enthusiasm for the city. There's plenty to see, far more than a few days' worth of sights. The Moderna Museet, tucked away on one of the city's many islands, is impressive, and so is the charming old town, Gamla Stan. Skansen, the world's first open air museum, is also packed with interesting things to see.

Stockholm is sometimes called "the Venice of the North", and although it's a misleading comparison, because the two cities are utterly different, with so much water, there is the chance to take some fascinating boat trips. Our voyage to the fabulous Drottningholm Palace on a sunny day was especially memorable. And so was a Father's Day dinner cooked in her flat by Catherine.

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