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The Conspiracy - The backstory

The Conspiracy - Stieg Larsson’s lost files and the hunt for an assassin.

 
 

The backstory

On the evening of the 28th of Febuary, a Swedish family goes to the cinema to see a comedy: ‘The Brother’s Mozart’. This would not be noteworthy if it weren’t for the fact that the father of the family is at that time the Prime Minister of Sweden anda leading figure in the European social-democratic movement. Olof Palme was a man with strong ideals, unafraid to make unpopular decisions. A man that didn’t only inspire love, but also intense hatred.In spite of the fact that he had been warned that his life was in danger just a few weeks earlier, he walks there without bodyguards. Palmetook great pride in the fact that he could move around the city of Stockholm without any protection, but after leaving the cinema, having said goodbye to his son, he was shot in the back at close range. He died almost instantly. His wife Lisbeth was also shot, but the bullet went through her coat and only burned her skin, giving her a look at the murderer before he ran off through the streets of Stockholm.

The “Grand” cinema in Stockholm. Photo: Wikipedia.

The “Grand” cinema in Stockholm. Photo: Wikipedia.

The police investigation went wrong from the very start. It took the police for instance more than two hours to send out an alarm with a description of the killer, and they insufficiently fenced off the crime scene. Shell casings from the bullets were later found by pedestrians.

This happened more than thirty years ago and the case is still not solved. In fact, it has become the biggest murder investigation in history. It also marks the end of Swedish innocence and has created a gaping wound in the Swedish soul. But this case reaches far beyond the Swedish borders. A new investigation into the murder of Olof Palme implicates many parties including the South-African government during the apartheid regime and even the CIA. The South Africans had a strong motive to want to get rid of Olof Palme since he openly and financially supported the anti-apartheid movement. He also became a problem for the international arms-industry. Before he was killed he was about to obstruct deals involving South-Africa, America and Iran.

The memorial plaque of Olof Palme, at the scene where he was shot.

The memorial plaque of Olof Palme, at the scene where he was shot.

Our story starts in 2012, when investigative journalist Jan Stocklassa is doing research for a book about the impact of architecture on human behaviour. He has a theory that certain locations can inspire people to commit violent crimes. One of the most intriguing places he finds is an apartment in Stockholm where a brutal murder took place in the 1930’s, and years later a police officer was shot. Stocklassa manages to track down the man who pulled the trigger in the last assault. He is almost two meters tall, wears a worn out jacket and has just been released from mental hospital. This man used to be a well-connected doctor and lived in the apartment together with a famous actress, who he had a strange and tragic history in common with. He had lost two daughters in a plane crash, she lost her children in a fire. Together they started a new family, while running a political hate campaign against Olof Palme. Back in 1986, shortly after the murder, the doctor was questioned by the police but was quickly dismissed as a suspect. When Stocklassa tracks down the actress, now the doctors’ ex-wife, he makes a shocking discovery. During the conversation the actress takes back the alibi she once gave her husband for the murder of Olof Palme. She also points out that the doctor owned the same type of gun as the one with which Palme was shot. This leads Stocklassa off his original track into a murder-mystery that he cannot let go of.

Stocklassa is not the first person to become obsessed by the murder. There are countless conspiracy theories about the assassination of Olof Palme and over 130 people have confessed to the murder. One of the people who spent years of his life investigating the case was a man who became world-famous for something totally different. Before detective-writer Stieg Larsson wrote the Millennium Trilogy he was a journalist specialized in the upcoming extreme right in Sweden. In order to protect himself and his partner he did this in secret. After his death in 2004 the archive was locked away in a garage.

Stieg Larsson.

Stieg Larsson.

Through his investigation, and by a stroke of luck, Stocklassa gets access to Stieg Larssons’ extensive archive that no one has looked into before. Larsson didn’t only do research and collect enormous amounts of material, he also wrote detailed letters about his findings to a good friend who was the editor in chief of a newspaper in London.When Stocklassa digs into the archive he is initially frustrated by the fact that Stieg Larsson has a totally different theory about the murder. Stocklassa believes in a lone wolf scenario while Stieg Larsson believed in an international conspiracy. But step by step he realizes that the two theories are not so different after all. They might be pieces of the same puzzle,involving illegal arms deals, neo Nazi’s, blundering police officers, and secret agents gone rogue.

 
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