Carl Hamilton novels

The Carl Hamilton novels are a series of novels by Swedish author Jan Guillou centered on the fictional spy Carl Hamilton. In Sweden and other countries it is a best-selling series.[1] Carl Hamilton has been called "Sweden's James Bond".[2] One commentator said the books "... place [Guillou] besides John le Carre and Len Deighton" (famous British spy novelists).[3]

Carl Hamilton
Carl Hamilton character
First appearanceCoq Rouge
Last appearanceMen inte om det gäller din dotter (But not if it concerns your daughter)
Created byJan Guillou
Portrayed byStellan Skarsgård
Peter Haber
Stefan Sauk
Peter Stormare
Mikael Persbrandt
Jakob Oftebro

The first novel Coq Rouge was published in 1986, it was Guillou's first significant work of fiction.

Concept and creationEdit

Carl Hamilton was created by author and journalist Jan Guillou after he had been sentenced to prison for espionage – for exposing a secret spy organization inside the Swedish military (see the IB affair).[4] Inspired by Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, Guillou began to write a spy novel of his own centered on protagonist Carl Hamilton. The series of crime novels resulting out of this first book became a great success in Sweden and was set to film multiple times.[5]


Coq RougeEdit

Coq Rouge: berättelsen om en svensk spion (literal: Coq Rouge – the story of a Swedish spy) was published in 1986.


Carl Hamilton was created by Jan Guillou after he had been sentenced to prison for espionage - for exposing an illegal spy organization inside the Swedish military (see the IB affair). His aim with the Hamilton books was to write what he knew about the world of intelligence and counter-intelligence, even though he was forbidden to tell. The codename "Coq Rouge" comes from a chat between Näslund and his Israeli counterpart after a meeting in France between the security services in Europe. Näslund say that Hamilton is as proud as a rooster and a communist. The Israeli then says: "Why don't they call him the red rooster, "coq rouge?". A friend of Guillou, Gabriel Oxenstierna ('Comrade Oxenstierna'), was the inspiration for Hamilton. Oxenstierna was a count and socialist. The reason for the name "Hamilton" is because there are many noble Swedes with the name Hamilton, but only four-five with the name Oxenstierna.[6]


Carl Gustaf Gilbert Hamilton was born as a Swedish nobleman, but he rejects his family values and becomes a member of Clarté and Vietnam activist. He enters compulsory military service with the intent to infiltrate the system, in order to strengthen it. While training to be an attack diver, he is given an offer by "DG" (an initialism for Den Gamle, "The Old One"), a retired boss in Swedish intelligence still active in the intelligence world. The state would pay for a double education for him in the United States: he would study computers openly and special operations secretly (training with the Navy SEALs) for five years. He accepts, and so he becomes Sweden's latest weapon for (counter)intelligence. After returning from the United States as a lieutenant (Navy reserve) and count, there is no place for him in military intelligence because of political changes in Sweden. He is temporarily assigned to the Swedish Security Police SÄPO, under director Henrik P. Näslund, whom he hates. Together with two other SÄPO-policemen, Hamilton is tasked with investigating the assassination of a higher SÄPO-officer. The murder has been done very professionally, with few clues and only a loose description of the murderer. Palestinian terrorists are suspected since the victim was working on a case with the Black September, and maybe had information on a coming terror attack. In Oslo police follow a man with the same description. The investigation takes Hamilton from Stockholm to Oslo, Beirut, the Red Sea coast of Israel and back to Stockholm for a grand finale at the unofficial Palestinian embassy.

The Democratic TerroristEdit

Den demokratiske terroristen (English translation: The Democratic Terrorist) was published in 1987.


Hamilton is assigned to infiltrate a terrorist group in West Germany, a part of the Red Army Faction (RAF), that supposedly are planning an operation in Sweden. Hamilton is chosen because of his background in the leftist movement. As a member of the group, he takes part in bank robberies — the preferred way of the RAF to finance their operations. In the end, when all terrorists are in one place, he leads the German Counter-terrorism unit GSG 9 to the location. He plays his role so well that he is identifying himself with the terrorists, and briefly is not far from fighting with the terrorists, but in the end, ends up shooting his terrorist "girlfriend", before she could shoot another "fake terrorist", a French agent, who is later killed by the GSG-9. Nevertheless, for his help, he received the West German medal Bundesverdienstkreuz.

I nationens intresseEdit

I nationens intresse (English translation: In the interest of the nation) was published in 1988.

Enemy's EnemyEdit

Fiendens fiende (English translation: Enemy's Enemy) was published in 1989. The English translation is by Thomas Keeland (1992).[7]

Den hedervärde mördarenEdit

Den hedervärde mördaren (English translation: The honourable murderer) was published in 1990.


Vendetta was published in 1991.

Ingen mans landEdit

Ingen mans land (English translation: No man's land) was published in 1992.

Den enda segernEdit

Den enda segern (English translation: The only victory) was published in 1993.

I hennes majestäts tjänstEdit

I hennes majestäts tjänst (English translation: In Her Majesty's service) was published in 1994.

En medborgare höjd över varje misstankeEdit

En medborgare höjd över varje misstanke (English translation: A citizen raised above every suspicion) was published in 1995.


Hamlon was published in 1996

A partial draft of an eleventh novel, along with Guillou's account on why it could not be completed, was published as Hamlon in 1995. Guillou stated that En medborgare höjd över varje misstanke was the last book and in order to make sure that Hamilton would never return, Guillou "banished" him from Sweden through a life sentence. Since he only intended to write about Sweden, no other book would be possible. However, when he was working on Madame Terror, he realised that he needed Hamilton to fill in a specific role. After Hamilton had been revived as a character, he made another major appearance in Men inte om det gäller din dotter, where his life sentence was lifted. Guillou thereby cleared the way for new appearances by Hamilton in future books.

Madame TerrorEdit

Madame Terror [sv] was published in 2006. It is a thriller novel about the relations between the US and the Arab world. But unlike other thriller novelists, such as Tom Clancy, this novel is written from the Arabs' point of view, specifically the Palestinians.


Carl Hamilton, vice-admiral and former chief of Säpo (the Swedish Security Service), has (after escaping from Swedish jail, convicted of murder) for ten years been living in the United States. Here he lives under false name (Hamlon) with American citizenship, in La Jolla, San Diego, keeping his body in shape and getting psychological help. But then on a spring day his old friend, the Palestinian intelligence officer Mouna al-Husseini comes to him with an offer. The Palestinians have (with the help of the Russians, who want revenge on the Americans for sinking the Kursk submarine) developed a high-tech alfa class attack submarine designated the "U-1 Jerusalem". The crew is mixed Russian and Palestinian, but neither group wants be led by one from the other group. They need a leader that is neither Russian nor Palestinian, but who can speak Russian, supports the Palestinians and their cause, has Soviet, Russian and Palestinian medals, has (naval) military background, understands the strategies of war and is a high officer. Only one man fits that description: Carl Hamilton. Their mission is to destroy the Israeli naval base in Haifa along with the Israeli fleet. The Americans declare them as terrorists, and with the British, they are hunting the sub (later called "Al-Quds", Arabic for Jerusalem) -- or are they?

Men inte om det gäller din dotterEdit

Men inte om det gäller din dotter (English translation: But not if it concerns your daughter) was published in 2008.

Character of Carl HamiltonEdit

Hamilton's lifeEdit

Carl Gustaf Gilbert Hamilton was born a Swedish noble. He rejected his family values and became involved in leftist activity. In the 1970s he was active in pro-Palestine movements and in a Swedish Maoist organisation called Clarté. He entered compulsory military service with intent to infiltrate the system, in order to strengthen it. While training to be an attack diver, he was given an offer. The state would pay for a double education for him in the United States: he would study computers openly and special operations secretly (in Navy SEAL training) for five years. He accepted, and so he became Sweden's newest weapon for (counter)intelligence.

After returning from United States as a lieutenant (Navy reserve), there was no place for him in military intelligence. He was temporarily assigned to the Swedish Security Police (SÄPO), where he investigated the murder of a SÄPO agent. During this investigation, the director of SÄPO gave Hamilton the code name Coq Rouge, the red rooster. He received a medal of valor (För tapperhet i fält) from the Swedish Government for his actions.

His next assignment is to infiltrate a terrorist group in Germany, part of the Red Army Faction (RAF), that supposedly were planning an operation in Sweden. After completing this mission he is transferred to Sweden's military intelligence. His first job there is to escort a defecting Soviet Admiral from Cairo to Sweden. Through the defector, Hamilton and his superiors found out that the Soviet Union had three secret underwater bases for special operations, set to target Sweden's highest political and military leaderships in case of a war. After resolving this mission, a phony defector feeds Sweden false information that Hamilton was a double agent, working for Soviet Union. This allegation is investigated, and the information is eventually found to be false.

Hamilton next leads a mission to Italy to rescue Swedish businessmen from the Mafia. Even though Hamilton managed to finish the mission with help from his associates, many people died during the desperate fight to free the businessmen and the effect of this was a vendetta against Hamilton.

Hamilton is now tasked with preventing nuclear warheads from being smuggled out of Russia. Hamilton and a number of Swedish airborne rangers perform a HAHO infiltration over the Russian border and resolve the mission. However, it is later found that this was just a diversion, there was another, less modern, nuclear warhead smuggled out another way, and it made it all the way to Libya. Hamilton is again working with the PLO military intelligence, and takes part in an operation to blow up the warhead inside Libya.

In the meantime, the Sicilian mafia waited. When the time was right, they first try to kill Hamilton and then to go after his loved ones instead. Hamilton had advanced to the rank of vice admiral. He became the director of SÄPO, where he was called the Black Admiral by the personnel.

During his leadership of SÄPO a number of immigrants were serial-murdered. An investigation discovered that the murderer was the Black Admiral himself. At his trial, he did not defend himself - he even helped the prosecution. Finally, he informed the world that what he did had to be done to clean up SÄPO. He said he would accept the punishment the law ordered for him. After a few weeks in prison, he escaped and fled to America under a pseudonym, Hamlon.

Hamilton lived there in America (in La Jolla to be exact) for ten years under the new identity, keeping his body in shape and getting psychological help. But then on a spring day his old friend: the Palestinian intelligence officer Mouna al Husseini came to him with an offer he couldn't refuse. To be a part of a big secret project of striking down the Israeli fleet.

Hamilton's characterEdit

Throughout the books, Hamilton's personality is sketched rather than described. His actions are described with journalistic neutrality, but his thoughts and feelings are at most implied, rarely if ever described. He has no fear of darkness, "harboring a well-grounded belief that he is the thing that goes bump in the night." He likes fair play, disdainfully stating that "it's not so strange that a diver should dive better than a cop" after outmatching a number of police officers in a diving contest.

He has a particular talent for sharpshooting, which works as meditation for him: No matter how chaotic his emotional or physical situation, he becomes calm when aiming a gun, "blanking out everything except the line between eye, sight and target."

He sometimes visualizes his inner demons as "blocks of black ice surfacing in a raging river", and routinely suppresses them. However, there is a price to pay for this, as is also implied more than described in the books. In the early books, DG ('The Old One'), a trained psychologist, acts as his sounding board.

Film and TV adaptationsEdit


  1. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropædia
  2. ^ Europe, Issue 343
  3. ^ Culture and Customs of Sweden (Byron J. Nordstrom, 2010, pg. 104)
  4. ^ Bratt, Peter (2007). Med rent uppsåt [In Good Faith]. Stockholm: Bonniers. pp. 123 et seq. ISBN 9789100115784.
  5. ^ Pollack, Ester (2011). "The Making of Kalle Blomkvist: Crime Journalism in Postwar Sweden". In Bronson, Eric (ed.). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy: Everything Is Fire. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118132937.
  6. ^ "Boktisdag: Jan Guillou". Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  7. ^ "ENEMY'S ENEMY". Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  8. ^ Andersson, Jan-Olov (7 September 2012). "Hamilton går vilse i ett hopplöst manushaveri" [Hamilton gets lost in a hopeless Script Disaster]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  9. ^ Peterson, Jens (1 September 2012). "Här blir Persbrandt superagenten igen" [This is where Mikael Persbrandt becomes a Super Agent again]. Aftonbladet. Retrieved 28 September 2012.