Alfred A. Knopf editor in chief Sonny Mehta today unveiled title and cover photo of The Girl In The Spider’s Web, the fourth installment of Stieg Larsson’s bold Millennium saga that launched the dark heroine Lisbeth Salander and sold 80 million books in a three-novel series that began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now, this is the first novel done after Larsson died, and it does not include the partial manuscript for a fourth book that the author’s partner, Eva Gabrielsson, reportedly found in his computer.
This new novel is written by David Lagercrantz, who was assigned to continue the series by Larsson’s Swedish publisher Norstedt, and by the author’s estate gatekeepers, his brother Joakim and father Brland. They’ve been locked in a long battle with Gabrielsson, who was Larsson’s steady partner from 1974 until he died. They didn’t marry because, reportedly, he believed his anti-fascist works could hurt her as an architect, author, and political activist. His death was so unexpected that there was no will, leaving Larsson’s estate to his relatives by default.
That makes this book more similar to the continuation of branded dead authors like Robert Ludlum and Robert B. Parker by other writers, than anything else. The question in Hollywood is whether this book will be good enough to pull the Millennium series out of development hell. Rights issues delayed Sony Pictures’ David Fincher-directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so long that a well-received Swedish film trilogy was out by the time Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig starred in the Hollywood version. They’ve discussed numerous ways to tackle the sequel, including a merge of the second and third volume into one book. But that series was a passion of Amy Pascal, who is no longer running the studio. This new volume might have to be a literary monster to give Salander the needed momentum to put another Hollywood installment into production.