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A part-time librarian at Stockholm’s National Library makes a small fortune stealing and selling rare books. Based on a true story, The Library Thief is now available only on MHz Choice!


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The names and some of the incidents have been changed, but the story at the heart of this three-part drama is true: In 2004, a senior librarian at the Royal National Library in Stockholm was arrested and charged with stealing more than one hundred rare books over a period of several years. The incident made headlines around the world and, as presented here, makes for a fascinating study of an audacious and troubled character.

The character in question is one John Johansson. As our story begins, the brilliant but odd John has just been let go from his teaching position, and he’s working nights as a ticket-seller in the Stockholm subway to make ends meet. Married with two kids and swamped with debt, house payments and student loans, John takes a part-time job as an assistant in the National Library – a position for which he is eminently over-qualified. Quickly realizing he’ll never get by on an assistant’s salary, John takes a leap and reinvents himself as “John Manneus” – international rare book dealer, wealthy jetsetter and academic elite. The gambit works, and soon John is regularly commuting back and forth to auction houses throughout Europe, dramatically upgrading his lifestyle and climbing the ladder at work. But lies have a way of catching up when you least expect them…

The Library Thief was directed by Daniel Lind Lagerlöf, a popular and prolific filmmaker whose resume includes multiple episodes of Beck, Van Veeteren, Wallander: The Original Episodes and Johan Falk, and who disappeared in October of 2011 while scouting locations for Camilla Läckberg’s Fjällbacka Murders on the rugged west coast of Sweden. It was presumed he slipped on the rocks and was swept out to sea; his body was never recovered. For this, his final production, he worked with several actors who had appeared in his previous films.

Gustaf Skarsgård

Gustaf Skarsgård, now best known for his roles in Vikings and Westworld, stars as John, and John’s wife, Pia, is played by Swedish actress Liv Mjönes. Gustaf and Liv both starred in the award-winning two-part limited series The Fat and the Angry, in which Gustaf played Karl, the psychotic, pill-popping gangster wannabe, and Liv played Petra, the detective who unravels the bizarre plot. Here they are together, playing two very different characters!

Other notable actors in The Library Thief include Reuben Sallmander, best known to MHz Choice subscribers as Irene Huss’ husband and Maria Wern’s love interest, and Claes Ljungmark, whom you may recognize as Viggo Norlander from the first season of Arne Dahl. Bonus points for spotting a pair of popular Thicker Than Water actors in supporting roles!

The Library Thief is now available only on MHz Choice!


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