Now that it's out in full, I can finally get around to reading the Millenium Trilogy. Stieg Larsson's mystery/thriller series has been available everywhere in the world except America, and the third book arrives today, to the thrill of chain book stores everywhere—and of Knopf, its publisher, who never expected such a runaway hit from the Swedish trilogy.
Larsson expected it to be a hit, but unfortunately he dropped dead of a heart attack "soon after delivering his manuscripts to the publisher." (This according to his author bio, which doesn't specify how long after.) His death has been the subject of much speculation given his background as a crime reporter, during which he exposed the activities of neo-Nazi and far right groups in Europe. Much likelier, his stroke was brought on by his heavy, heavy smoking (3 packs a day according to the London Times). To add further intrigue, his laptop is now the subject of a custody battle between his lover and his family.
Is the interest in his death the result of his popularity, or is his popularity stoked by his mysterious death? The sudden fuss and interest reminds me of the Roberto Bolaño hype, though Bolaño is a very gifted writer, where Larsson, though spinning a compelling and deft plot, isn't much of a prose stylist. But his characters are noble and his plotting fresh—the new book even inspired some kind words from Michiko Kakutani.
You can read a really long story on Larsson, his legacy, and his books from The New York Times Magazine here.