It is rare in publishing that an author of fiction will have a story that enhances the fascination with his/her books, but Stieg Larsson is such a person. Larsson wrote three interwoven manuscripts as a way to pass the time on his daily work commute, and submitted them all as a package to a publisher in 2004. Months later, the author suffered a myocardial infarction and died at the age of 50. The first book in his crime-thriller trilogy was posthumously published and went on to become an international bestseller. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was initially titled “Men who hate women,” which was understandably changed to reflect one of its protagonist’s markings. The character of Lisbeth Salander, a skinny, waifish, angry, and hyper-intelligent punk, is a unique creation and destined to be neoclassic heroine of literature, if not cinema (the book as already been adapted to Swedish film, premiering at Cannes this year). All Larsson’s characters are richly drawn, flawed, but most of all real, as they inhabit the task of a middle-aged reporter’s quest to solve a 50-year old mystery.
The simultaneous satisfaction of having two more books with Larsson’s characters to read is tempered with the immediate sadness that there are only two more books. Larsson’s premature death has leant a fascinating layer of real-life tragedy to his series, one that will likely be told hand-in-hand with the praise that this book deserves. This circumstance strikes me as one that will make the series vastly more popular and enduring than without Larsson’s untimely demise.
So, if you are going to leave your mark, leave it well and with dramatic flair.