Imagine you are the author of three international blockbuster novels. Acclaimed throughout the world, you have achieved critical and financial success beyond your wildest imagination. Now imagine that you never see the rewards of your labor because you die, suddenly, before your books are published. How cruel is that? Well, it did happen just that way to Swedish author Stieg Larsson, who was felled by a fatal heart attack just months before the publishing date of his first book. He never lived to see any of his books, (The Millenium Trilogy featuring The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and the forthcoming The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) in print. Next week, the final volume of the trilogy will be published in the U.S. and will undoubtedly join its predecessors on the best-seller list.
Stieg Larsson was a well-known journalist and activist who dedicated himself to exposing and criticizing neo-Nazism and other right-wing extremism in Sweden. As a result, he and his companion, Eva Gabrielsson, lived under a virtual death threat. An admirer of such crime writers as Elizabeth George, Minette Walters and Sara Paretsky, he took up writing in 1997 as a way to relax from the stress of his life. Although turned down by the first publisher he contacted, his three books were soon sold to another publisher in 2003. When published, they were an immediate success in Sweden, and throughout the world.
Larsson had envisioned a ten book crime series, and had finished the first three and about half of the fourth novel before his death. A very sad postscript to Larsson's story is that since he died without a will, Swedish law left his entire estate to his father and brother. His life companion Eva got nothing. However, Eva does have the unfinished fourth manuscript and would be willing to finish it, but refuses to do so unless given full rights to Larsson's works. Unfortunately, neither side can agree, so the stalemate continues.