With The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the other two mega-selling titles in his Millennium trilogy, the late novelist Stieg Larsson has put Stockholm on the map like no other Swede since the 17th century monarch Gustav Adolf the Great, whose forces defeated the armies of Russia, Poland, Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire. Almost 400 years after Sweden's Golden Age, the Millennium trilogy empire now spans the world, with Larsson's books in translation in 35 languages, and over 23 million copies sold. All three of Larsson's icy thrillers are largely set in Stockholm. And the books have spawned a tourism boom for the Swedish capital, with the Stadsmuseet (city museum) leading the way, drawing countless thousands of visitors on its Millennium tour. Film adaptations of the novels (a Swedish production is set for release in Asia next month, while a Hollywood treatment is the works) will only boost interest. The two-hour guided walk is conducted in Swedish, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Danish, and is now considered by many a must-do on any tourist's Stockholm itinerary. From the Stadsmuseet, housed in a 17th-century palace, the visitor on the Millennium tour walks into the edgy world created by Larsson, but one which is based on fixed locales. However, to some outsiders there appears to be something of a disconnect with this picture. Could the lurid violence detailed in Larsson's books really erupt in such a well-behaved city? In recent decades, Stockholm has been perceived as a model metropolis populated by orderly, though taciturn, city-dwellers, who drive in uber-safe Volvos and live low-risk lives in the heart of a prosperous nation. But that perception has long belied a grittier reality. The first time a less-anodyne Stockholm entered the global consciousness was in 1973, when bank robbers seized the employees of a central branch of Kreditbanken as hostages. The siege dragged on for five days, during which time the hostages became certain that they faced greater peril from a police rescue attempt than from their captors. And so the term 'Stockholm Syndrome' came into being. An even greater impact was felt 16 years later, when Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot dead while walking home with his wife from the cinema. Stockholm has always had a dark side, of course. Any city of more than a million people inevitably has its share of miscreants. However, by the start of the 21st century, Stockholm had taken on a hitherto unfamiliar air of menace normally associated with the rather less cohesive cities. In any event, part of Larsson's genius was to capture this restiveness and creeping anxiety in his fiction, which incorporates many of the city's best-known and intriguing locales in fastidious detail, resulting in a gratifyingly authentic series. The Millennium tour is like literally walking into Larsson's amazing narrative. The tour centres on Sodermalm, a large island to the south of the city centre, and one of the 14 islands that make up this city. Sodermalm is home for both of the trilogy's main characters, magazine hack Mikael Blomkvist and cyberspace hacker Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo). The fiercely left-wing Larsson's choice of Sodermalm is significant. 'Sodermalm', or 'Soder', the south, has always been the hip, bohemian part of town. Previously a blue-collar neighbourhood, it has now been gentrified, but still exudes a non-conformist vibe. It's a community both of the arts and the working man. Power, money, and corruption can be found in other parts of Stockholm, but not here. Until now. Today, Sodermalm is now a pricey district, and is experiencing, in the wake of the success of the book and the film, a 'Notting Hill effect'. The tour takes in most of Blomkvist's and Salander's favourite haunts, as well as their homes: the journalist's flat on the corner of a street called Bellmansgatan, and Salander's 21-room pad on the top floor of the strikingly eccentric building at Fiskargatan Nine. And so the visitor gets to see Tabbouli, the inspiration for Samir's, which in the books is the Lebanese eatery on Tavasgatan, where Blomkvist and his political-activist chums hang out. Another key location is Millennium magazine's office on Gotgatan, and is located - in real life and in fiction - above the Stockholm branch of Greenpeace. One of the most readily identifiable locations on this tour is the Mellqvist coffee bar on Hornsgatan, perhaps Blomkvist's favourite corner in all of Stockholm. It was also favoured by his creator; Larsson is said to have written large tracts of his books here. A rather more obscure spot on the tour is the synagogue on St Paulsgatan. It is here that Salander's employer, Dragan Armanskij, meets Detective Inspector Jan Bublanski in a key twist in the story arc. The tour even includes the 7-Eleven where Salander buys her frozen pizza and her Marlboro Lights, the heroine's two main forms of sustenance. For those resolutely solo travellers, one can buy the museum's excellent Millennium map for just a few krona and stroll into the world of the Millennium trilogy independently. It's a parallel universe, but only just. The series' landmarks and motifs are all around and quite touchable. While the trilogy is the work of an incredibly powerful imagination, its urban geography is remarkably non-fictive. Enjoying a kaffe och bullar (coffee and a cinnamon bun) at Mellqvist, I noticed another legacy of the global phenomenon that is the Millennium trilogy. Many of its customers appeared to writing away at their laptops, then lapsing scribe-like to summon up fresh plot developments or gaze out at the sleet-lashed street, before frenziedly tap-tapping away again. Evidently, there a few more Stockholm-noir novels being crafted at that inspirational coffee shop, even if The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels has raised the bar almost impossibly high. Mellqvist is a bit pricey now, but dreams of being the next Stieg Larsson remain free. Getting there: Various airlines fly to Stockholm via cities such as Amsterdam, London, Munich, Doha and Bangkok. Details of the two-hour Millennium tour, which costs SK120 (HK$130), are available from the Stockholm City Museum website at www.stadsmuseum.stockholm.se Recommended is the Stockholm Card pass, which provides museum entry and unlimited travel on public transport for SK375. Visit www.stockholmtown.com for details.