Leif G. W. Persson

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Leif G. W. Persson
Leif G.W. Persson at the Gothenburg Book Fair in 2013.
Leif G.W. Persson at the Gothenburg Book Fair in 2013.
BornLeif Gustav Willy Persson
(1945-03-12) 12 March 1945 (age 74)
Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationNovelist, Criminologist
GenreCrime fiction, Mystery fiction
Notable worksHe Who Kills the Dragon
Falling Freely, As in a Dream
Linda - as in the Linda Murder Case

Leif Gustav Willy Persson (born 12 March 1945) is a Swedish criminologist and novelist. Persson has four children, one of whom, Malin Persson Giolito, is also a crime writer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Leif Gustav Willy Persson was born on 12 March 1945 in Stockholm, Sweden to Gustav and Margit Persson.


In 1977, while working at the Swedish National Police Board, Persson was the whistleblower who worked with journalist Peter Bratt in the so-called Geijer Scandal when he confirmed a classified memo sent by then National Police Commissioner Carl Persson to Prime Minister Olof Palme about the alleged ties of the Minister of Justice, Lennart Geijer, to a prostitution ring in Stockholm. Following this affair he was fired from the National Police Board. The string of events almost drove Persson to suicide,[2] but he soon returned as lecturer at Stockholm University. The prostitution ring affair inspired him to write his first novel, Grisfesten. He returned to the National Police Board as a professor in 1992.

Persson was a professor in criminology at the Swedish National Police Board from 1992 to 2012. He is well known in Sweden for his crime fiction novels[3] and for his regular appearances as an expert commentator on notable crime cases on television and in newspapers. Between 1999 and 2009, he participated as an expert commentator on the TV3 television show Efterlyst, which is primarily about wanted Swedish criminals. Between 2010 and 2018, he participated in the SVT television show Veckans Brott with Camilla Kvartoft, which is primarily about unsolved Swedish criminal cases both recent and cold.


  • Grisfesten (1978; The Pig Party)
  • Profitörerna (1979; The Profiteers)
  • Hidden criminality : theoretical and methodological problems, empirical results (1980)
  • Min kompetens (1981; My Competence)
  • Samhällsbärarna (1982; The Pillars of Society)
  • Mellan sommarens längtan och vinterns köld (2002 - first volume in a trilogy which deals with Sweden in the cold war era, which has as a common element, events related to the yet unsolved 1986 murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme; Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End, UK 2010, trans. Paul Norlen).
  • En annan tid, ett annat liv (2003 - second volume in the trilogy; Another Time, Another Life, UK 2012, trans. Paul Norlen)
  • Linda - som i Lindamordet (2005 - Evert Bäckström book 1; Linda - as in the Linda Murder, UK 2013, trans. Neil Smith)
  • Faller fritt som i en dröm (2007 - third volume in a trilogy; Falling Freely, as if in a Dream, UK 2014, trans. Paul Norlen)
  • Den som dödar draken (2008 - Evert Bäckström book 2; He Who Kills the Dragon, UK 2013, trans. Neil Smith)
  • Den döende detektiven (2010; The Dying Detective)
  • Gustavs Grabb' (2011 - autobiography)
  • Den sanna historien om Pinocchios näsa (2013 - Evert Bäckström book 3; The Sword of Justice[4])
  • Bombmakaren och hans kvinna (2015)

Evert Bäckström novels[edit]

So far, three of Persson's novels feature homicide detective Evert Bäckström. Bäckström is rude, lazy, overweight, racist, sexist and cynical. In spite of this, he displays excellent deductive skills.

Bäckström appeared as a supporting character in the TV mini-series En pilgrims död and Den fjärde mannen. (The main characters in these series were Jarnebring & Johansson.) In both of these series, Bäckström was played by Claes Malmberg.

An American TV Series was made in 2015 entitled Backstrom. The show takes place in Portland, Oregon, USA instead of Sweden, and the character's first name is changed to Everett. However the character's actual personality remains more or less unchanged. Backstrom was played by Rainn Wilson. The show was cancelled after one season.

Jarnebring & Johansson[edit]

Several of Persson's novels feature police officers Bo Jarnebring and Lars Martin Johansson, partners and best friends.

In the film Mannen från Mallorca (adapted from the novel Grisfesten) Jarnebring is played by Sven Wollter, and Johansson by Tomas von Brömssen. Two TV mini-series featuring the characters were produced starring Rolf Lassgård as Johansson and Per Svensson as Jarnebring: En pilgrims död (2013) and Den fjärde mannen (2014-15). (These two series also featured Persson's other character Evert Bäckström.)

Anna Holt[edit]

Created by Persson, police detective Anna Holt has appeared in both Persson's novels, and in novels by fellow author Jan Guillou. Holt has also appeared in several television adaptations starring Petra Nielsen.

Notable adaptations[edit]

  • Profitörerna (TV series, 1983)
  • Mannen från Mallorca (The Man from Majorca, film, 1984)
  • I lagens namn (In the Name of the Law, film, 1986)
  • En pilgrims död (Death of a Pilgrim, TV mini-series, 2013)
  • Den fjärde mannen (The Fourth Man, TV mini-series, 2014–15)
  • Backstrom, (US TV series, 2015)


Persson won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award (Bästa svenska kriminalroman), for three of his novels: Samhällsbärarna in 1982, En annan tid, ett annat liv in 2003, and Den döende detektiven in 2010. This award is a literary prize awarded annually by the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy.

He also received the 2011 Glass Key award for Den döende detektiven (The Dying Detective); this award is a given annually to a crime novel by an author from the Nordic countries and the 2011 Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, which is awarded by the Det danske Kriminalakademi for the best criminal literature translated into Danish.


  1. ^ https://skavlan.com/en/news/skavlan-october-19
  2. ^ Daniel Ekeroth: SWEDISH SENSATIONSFILMS: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema, (Bazillion Points, 2011) ISBN 978-0-9796163-6-5.
  3. ^ "Inspector Norse: Why are Nordic detective novels so successful?". The Economist. 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  4. ^ "Books - Den sanna historien om Pinocchios näsa". SalomonssonAgency.se. Retrieved 23 January 2015.

External links[edit]