I’d borrowed a Volvo and driven from Gothenburg, 80 miles south, passing creaky wooden windmills and green fields scattered with golden dandelions. The plan had been to take the bus, but even the well-oiled Swedish transportation system can be sluggish on these winding coastal routes. I pulled up near the red granite church in the middle of the village, where Torbjorn — a tall, blue-eyed former police chief — was waiting to tell me more about the place.
Fjallbacka, Sweden: Where to stay, what to do and more
Torbjorn is one of eight local guides who have been showing fiction fanatics around the village since 2007, when two of Lackberg’s crime thrillers were first televised in Sweden. Back then, the sleepy community braced itself for a tidal wave of tourists. But as Torbjorn admitted when we sat down to chat over a cup of syrupy black coffee, the TV shows weren’t that great. So apart from the usual summer rush, when vacationing Swedes and Norwegians arrive by the yacht-load, the tourist onslaught never came.
This time, however, things could be different. A Swedish production company is in the village filming “Fjallbacka Murders,” a collection of 10 new TV movies based on the characters in Lackberg’s books. The movies star two of Sweden’s best actors (Claudia Galli and Richard Ulfsater), and Lackberg — now one of the hottest crime writers in the world — is one of the co-producers. Channels in 10 countries have signed up for the rights to air the movies, and theaters already have their eyes on two full-length features that are being filmed concurrently. No surprise that local tourist agencies are working hard to promote Fjallbacka as an exciting (and murder-free) destination.
The first TV movie won’t hit Swedish screens until Christmas, so there’s still a relatively slow drip of tourists. Torbjorn and his team can cope with any visitors, but they’re already thinking about training a group of younger guides to run tours based on Lackberg’s claustrophobic thrillers. “We guides are getting too old, and we realize that we cannot go on guiding forever,” he said. Having moved here in 1944, he still cheekily describes himself as a newcomer. “We know a lot about Fjallbacka, but all of us are over 70, and it’s very hilly around here.”
Not that the slopes have slowed him down. Within minutes of our caffeine fix, he was leading me past red-painted houses, cutesy little convenience stores and Fjallbacka’s only hotel, which hugs the village’s main junction. Then we were clambering over the slippery rocks that line Kungsklyftan, a plunging gorge where, in Lackberg’s book “The Preacher,” a young boy finds a woman lying dead.