Jens Lapidus is one of Sweden’s most read and loved authors. Compared to crime fiction writers such as James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane, Lapidus’ fast-paced novels feature hardboiled action with parallel storylines and complex characters, anti-heroes and their everyday struggles. His most recent book Mr One is set in a world of gang violence and corruption, where Stockholm’s ultra-rich stand in contrast to the poor.

The former criminal defence lawyer Jens Lapidus is known for his contemporary depictions of Stockholm’s underworld and gang culture where former friends become lethal enemies in an endless spiral of violence. His stories include a dynamic mix of criminals, police officers and lawyers, and the ultra-rich and successful.


His new novel Mr One (Mr Ett) is the sequel to the praised Top Dog trilogy. It unravels the power struggle that follows the abdication of gangster boss Isak and takes the reader on a rollercoaster of gang violence and organized crime, drugs and corruption, and moral dilemmas. A new theme is also parental worry – as with Isak’s problems with his son Max and policeman Gabriel’s concerns about his daughter Alma. “When I wrote my first book, I was in my thirties. Now 17 years later, I’m a parent of teenagers and I wanted to describe parenthood and its challenges,” says Jens. “As I have matured, so have the characters and the storylines in my books.”

Similar to The Wire, the hit American TV series about gang violence set in Baltimore, the main characters in Jens’ nerve-wracking stories are neither good nor bad – or rather, they blur the boundaries between the two. Not everything is static, according to the author. “For me, it’s important to be true to the character and see the world with their eyes,” Jens reflects. “Even if you haven’t experienced the same kind of life, you should be able to recognize their feelings and sympathize with their struggles and choices in everyday situations. I have spent a lot of time trying to achieve a level of relatability, and feel I have succeeded in portraying different characters.” His books are so realistic, many readers have assumed they are in fact real-life stories.


A dystopian novel and a ‘mid-life pause’

Whilst most of Jens’ crime novels, including Mr One, are centred around contemporary Sweden, his previous stand-alone book Paradis City is different; a ruthless portrayal of a society, set a few years in the future, where everything goes wrong. Paradis City was inspired by the classic sci-fi action movie Escape from New York from 1981, where Manhattan has been turned into a giant maximum-security prison to deal with an increase in crime.

Similarly, in Paradis City walls have been built to restrict the movements of those living in the so-called ‘no-go zones’. During a political rally in the largest zone, Järva, the Home Secretary is abducted and only one person can save her, a former criminal. “We’re already living in an increasingly polarized society, with issues of segregation and increased violence,” says Jens. “What’s scary is that our reality has somehow caught up with the dystopia.”


Jens wrote the dark novel whilst living in Mallorca, where he saw Sweden from afar. It took several years to complete; “it’s the book that has taken me the longest to write actually, four years in total. Partly because I was creating a new dystopian world, which was different from my other books, and partly because I was living in Mallorca and having something of a mid-life pause, mostly enjoying long lunches, boat rides and mountain biking,” he smiles. “The island is great for that, by the way!”


Jens and Hedda Lapidus, co-authors of The Dillsta Crew books. Photo: Stefan Tell

Easy Money and impactful stories

The Stockholm-based author made his debut in 2006 with Easy Money (Snabba Cash), one of Sweden’s most talked about and bestselling novels of the 21st century. It was sold to over 30 countries and later adapted into movies, the first under the direction of Daniel Espinosa.

In 2021, Netflix made a reboot of the Easy Money universe with new characters, with Jens taking part as executive producer and screenwriter. A second season of the hugely successful series was released globally on Netflix in September 2022. It was produced by SF Studios in collaboration with Strive Stories, a newly established independent production company founded by Jens and award-winning producer Nicklas Wikström Nicastro. Its purpose is to make feature films and TV drama with intriguing stories – not solely based on the characters in Jens’ books.

It’s clear that Jens thrives when busy, and more is in the pipeline. The filming of a TV series based on Paradis City is due to begin this summer with Strive Stories, and a second season of Top Dog premiered on C More on 8 May. The series is loosely based on his novels around the relationship of lawyer Emily and recently released convict Teddy, characters also seen in Mr One. “It’s bold, exciting and brutal,” says Jens about the new season. He also regularly writes debate articles and appears on TV, as an expert on crime-related matters, amongst other things.

Apart from writing crime novels and running a production company, he is working on a series of children’s books together with wife Hedda. Jens debuted with the first novel about The Dillsta Crew (Dillstaligan) in 2020, and together they have recently released book number six, The Hamster Coup, (Hamsterkuppen), illustrated by Gustaf Lord. There are similarities with the crime novels, Jens admits, as the Dillsta Crew is a group of thieves, but in a funny, exciting and sweet way that kids love. The couple’s plan is to release eight books altogether, so expect more from the mischievous crew.


Follow Jens Lapidus on Instagram: @jenslapidus

An avid reader himself, Jens tries to fit in as much reading as he can, often alternating between books and audio books when out and about. “I realized that I’m on my phone a lot, but I actually prefer to read a book. So, I set myself a challenge of reading one book per week this year.”

Three recent reads recommended by Jens Lapidus:

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
A fast-paced novel of crime and corruption, similar to James Ellroy. Incredibly strong characters and meandering action.

The Couples Trip (Sarek) by Ulf Kvensler
Convincing characters in an addictive psychological thriller about a hike in Northern Sweden. Shortlisted for the Crimetime Award 2022.

Skuggland by Marcus Dunberg
A gripping new thriller about an assault taking place at the privileged private school Lyceum.

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