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The fourth book in Stieg Larsson's 'trilogy'

30 March 2015

It's not the first time an author has ‘written' from beyond the grave (Virginia Andrews and Robert Ludlum come to mind) but the just-announced news that, 11 years on, a fourth book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy will be published still strikes a cynical note.

Since the author's sudden death at the age of 50 a battle has raged over his literary rights and, effectively, this shows that one side has won. His partner (but not wife) of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, has been routed by the author's father and brother, legally his next-of-kin, and they have authorised this book.

It's a sad story because Larsson never knew that his books would become huge international bestsellers but he had in fact embarked on a fourth book. This remains in Gabrielsson's possession and has not been used as the basis for this new book. There's no doubt that the book itself will be of high quality and the agent and publishers will have chosen a decent writer to undertake the job, a Swedish author by the name of David Langercrantz, but it's a pity that Larsson's own work could not have been the basis for this new volume.

Eva Gabrielsson has described the new book as a cynical money-making scheme, which upi can't argue with. But the real question is this: everyone knows that the author is dead, so why is there a ready audience for this, at least in the view of one of America's biggest publishers? Sonny Mehta, publisher of Knopf, said that: "The Girl in the Spider's Web is as good as its predecessors and uniquely of the moment. I know readers are going to be thrilled when they are reacquainted with both Lisbeth and Mikael in one of the most compelling Millennium novels to date."

To reiterate the theme of last week, the author brand is uniquely powerful. Even if readers know that the book wasn't written by the author him or herself, they simply crave the same experience.