If you thought that contemporary Swedish literature was limited to the darkly noir (courtesy of the late Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy) you'll be thrilled to discover the other side of the coin or - more accurately - the crown (Sweden's monetary unit) in Jonas Jonasson's brilliant comic criminal caper, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared.
With less than an hour to go before his BIG birthday party, Allan Karllson boycotts the festivities, opens the window of his room at the Old Folks Home and steps into the flower bed. From the flower bed, he makes his way to the bus station and purchases a ticket. Waiting at the station is another prospective passenger - a very angry, slightly built young man with long greasy blond hair and a scraggly beard wearing a jean jacket with the words "Never Again" on the back and wheeling a large gray suitcase. Needing to use the restroom, which is a bit too narrow for both man and suitcase, he asks Allan to keep it in sight. When he emerges from the restroom, both the suitcase and Allan are gone.
Allan stole the suitcase on a whim. Indeed, when you learn more about Allan, you'll realize that the whim factor is a basic component to his DNA. The suitcase contains 37.5 million crowns, which the blond haired man is desperate to get back. As the police search for Allan and the criminals search for the missing suitcase, Allan needs help and help arrives through the efforts of, and encounters with, a hilarious assortment of characters including several criminals - petty and major, a very over-educated hotdog stand owner and a red-haired beauty with two hugely oversized pets - an elephant named Sonya and an Alsatian named Buster.
Speaking of encounters, Allan's genius with explosives, both personally and professionally, has put him in close touch with the leading political leaders in the century. Mao, Churchill, Stalin, Truman, Franco, Johnson and DeGaulle all play decisive roles in Allan's fascinating history as the book moves back and forth between Allan's present and past adventures.
The Dos Equis man is dubbed "the most interesting man in the world". Vodka lover Allan Karlsson could more definitely give him a run (or at least a power shuffle) for the money.