Fourth Larsson Millennium novel may rise from the dead
By Lynn Voedisch
Fans of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy are salivating at the idea that a fourth book may be forthcoming from the late author, and Swedish publisher Norstedts is giving them faint hope that a manuscript could indeed rise from the dead.
This is no mean trick. According to AP, Larsson's books, published in the U.S. as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and are selling more than 50,000 copies a day in the United States. A possible fourth book is bound to be a veritable gold mine for Norstedts and any other publishers that contract for foreign translations.
The issue at hand is only 320 pages of the purported manuscript were completed by the Swedish author before he died at age 50 of a sudden heart attack. He had outlines for the book to run to 440 pages. Previously, his live-in girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson, said she had the manuscript on her laptop. But because Swedish inheritance laws don't recognize common-law marriages, she was not entitled to any of the money made on the novel's sizable profits, or on the money made by the release of the Swedish movie. An American movie is also in the works.
Instead, all the inheritance money has gone to Larsson's father and brother, Erland and Joakim Larsson, who have been outright stingy by any interpretation of events, and will share relatively little money with Gabrielsson. They want the laptop and the partial manuscript, but she's not giving it to them. Talks between the two parties finally reached an impasse in June. Sentiment among the Swedish people remains strongly in Gabrielsson's favor.
Meanwhile, there were hints in the spring from the Swedish press that Gabrielsson had helped Larsson write the novels. Some co-workers of Larsson, who was primarily a journalist, have stated he couldn't possibly have written the books on his own and that Gabrielsson must have co-written them. Only one writer has come to Larsson's defense and he's been roundly criticized by the Swedish press. Gabrielsson has remained mum except to say she might have helped copy-edit the work.
Now, Gabrielsson says she doesn't have the laptop with the manuscript and seems to have forgotten making previous statements about having it. All this is frustrating the heirs, who don't want her to finish the fourth book, because it would give her a clear road to inheriting the money from that novel, according to John-Hentry Holmbert, a friend of Larsson's who was interviewed by A.P.
Norstedts is remaining fairly close-mouthed on the subject. "The questions about the fourth manuscript (are) entirely hypothetical," company head Eva Gedin told A.P. "We have never studied this manuscript and therefore don't know if it exists, how much has been written and if so, what shape the manuscript is in."
According to Holmberg, the e-mail he had received a while back from Larsson details that the novel takes place 120 kilometers north of Sachs Harbour, at Banks Island in Canada in the month of September.
"Did you know that 134 people live in Sachs Harbour, whose only contact with the world is a postal plane twice a week when the weather permits?" Larsson wrote in the e-mail. "But there are 48,000 musk-ox and 80 different types of wild flowers that bloom during two weeks in early July, as well as an estimated 1,500 polar bears."
Holmberg didn't know much more of the plot, but said it would—like all of Larsson's other books—deal with women and violence against women. Fans of Larsson's work are hoping against hope that something will rise from the ashes out of this scenario and that a dead writer will once again produce a best-selling thriller.