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The Girl that was lost in greed
by Thanos Kalamidas
2015-09-03 08:57:02
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Stieg Larsson was not Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, James Patterson or Ian Fleming when his first novel, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, was published in 2005. Actually he was unknown to most people out of Sweden. In Sweden he was known to some for absolutely different reasons and what intrigued people to buy his novel was not the mystery and the death in his stories but his own death. The writer died betrayed not from a battler but from heart problems in 2004, one year before his first book was published.

millen01_400His death added to the mythology created around his book and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” rocketed fast to the top of all the best sellers all around the world. A year later, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, second book of the unveiling trilogy was published and in Sweden there was already talk about a film production. And in 2007 the last instalment of the series “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest” reached the bookshops.

By then, the “Millennium Trilogy” was a big hit in the world of mystery and action novels and Stieg Larsson was the first writer to reach a million EBook sales. The same time theories started leaking for a fourth novel the writer had never managed to finish and sadly a family conflict about Larsson’s heritage that covered a lot of headlines for a long time.

The “Millennium Trilogy”, as the publisher and Stieg Larsson’s personal friend often explained, was the work of a dedicated journalist who loved this style of books and always wanted to write one. Reading the three books you feel that the influence of classic and contemporary writers of the kind is obvious, but it is also obvious that Larsson was a writer evaluating fast into a master. His first book has gaps here and there, unconnected events and pages that obviously needed more work. In the second book of the series these gaps become fewer and in the third book you have the definite feeling that his next one would have been his master work.

But there was something that took shape from the very first pages of his debut book, his characters. Post-punk hacker, Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist are unique and powerful. Actually this is what will make this trilogy a classic in the field of the mystery action books; despite technical or other problems after one point you are not reading Stieg Larsson’s book but Lisbeth Salander’s and Mikael Blomkvist’s life story. The audience identified with the two protagonists.

Stieg Larsson wrote the stories in the form masters like Robert Ludlum have used. A fast narrative with a lot of information, result of research from the writer. The same time, probably unintentionally, he added a lot of personal experiences in his journalist character. After all Stieg Larsson was a journalist and he was an expert in Nazi and neo-Nazi groups in Scandinavia; another key element for his “Millennium Trilogy”. Actually Mikael "Kalle" Blomkvist was Stieg Larsson or better the Stieg Larsson he wanted to be.

millen02_400The “Millennium Trilogy” had incredible success, it became a series of films in Sweden with international recognition featuring Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and soon after a Hollywood film with mega star Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. The late Stieg Larsson had become a goldmine and a twisted court decision let his - for decades estranged - family responsible of these money instead of his long partner, Eva Gabrielsson.

And since money wants more money, news for a new instalment - the fourth book - reached the headlines in 2013. Of course this was accompanied with a new twist. Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s partner, even though she lost all the rights in his books - in a court room from Larssen's family - she still holds his drafts for a fourth, fifth even sixth book of the series. But none of them is in state to be published, they need somebody with knowledge and understanding of the writer, his style and his background to continue his work. Eva Gabrielsson was offered to do so and most likely she was the right person to do so, but late Larsson’s family refused even to think about it. Obviously they didn’t want to partner the money they got out of the blue with her. So all the manuscripts and the drafts are staying untouched with Eva Gabrielsson and the family had to come with a more …productive idea to keep mining.

August 27th 2015, “The Girl in the Spider's Web” was published in Sweden and September 1st in English internationally. Obviously and with all the build-up the book will be soon translated in tens of other languages. Author, David Lagercrantz. A Swedish writer best known for ghost-writing international Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s biography “I Am Zlatan” which apparently became a best seller.

But David Lagercrantz is not Stieg Larsson and his knowledge in journalism or Nazi hunt is obviously encyclopaedic. Mikael ‘Kalle’ Blomkvist is not anymore the investigated journalist inspired from the constantly curious boy-detective in Astrid Lindgren’s books, he is a cynic man in middle age crisis who tries to resurrect his career. Lisbeth Salander is not the female action figure but a woman with conscious crisis who wants to do the good thing and since North Korea was obviously not available for the writer he decided to find controversy in the mighty of the spy world NSA adding a bit of science fiction via internet and hacking.

millen03_400On top of all that David Lagercrantz decided that he had to imitate Stieg Larsson writing style doing intentionally what Larsson did unintentionally. There are gaps and event inconsistencies and you know that it was made intentionally. You know it’s only Lagercrantz’s doing and you also know how little he understood the “Millennium Trilogy” when he read it.

I have read “I Am Zlatan” and I fully enjoyed it. But Zlatan is famous for his quotes and it is a treasure of controversy every time he opens his mouth. So David Lagercrantz only had to put in order what was coming out of Zlatan’s mouth. No myths necessary, no imagination, no talent. But with Stieg Larsson’s Mikael ‘Kalle’ Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander things were not the same. There would have been thunders if Stieg Larsson could see that his controversial heroes, his anti-Nazi messages were becoming a background addition where good guys are angels with wings and bad guys always have little horns.

Eva Gabrielsson was right to oppose this ghost writing from the beginning and Stieg Larsson’s family to continue the gold-mining using David Lagercrantz is the proof of it. “The Girl in the Spider's Web” will be a publishing success and most likely a fourth film for the franchise but this will happen out of the forceful momentum Stieg Larsson has and not because of David Lagercrantz contribution which most of us will try to forget as soon as possible.

Of course we will all read “The Girl in the Spider's Web”. A bit of curiosity and a lot of the wish to keep Mikael ‘Kalle’ Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander alive is enough to motivate us to add a few more pennies to Larsson family’s purse, managers, publishers, marketers and the rest.

What we can hope for is that one day – hopefully soon - Eva Gabrielsson will be able to publish the real sequel of Mikael ‘Kalle’ Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander’s story as it should be even if that means that she will have to change the names. Even if Lisbeth become Hack Erickson we will know who she is. As far David Lagercrantz he should check with David Beckham, he might needs a biographer.


To be “immortalized” by Marvel and Stan Lee is kind of cool. After all Thanos is coming from Athanasios which means immortal; but to be the …VILLAIN in the “The Girl in the Spider's Web”, the fourth instalment of the “Millennium Trilogy”, that was………

But David Lagercrantz got it wrong ...again; obviously not the Mikael “Kalle” Blomkvist kind of investigator. The name Thanos is a nickname coming from the Athanasios which in Greek means “immortal”, as I just mentioned. Is not coming from “Thanatos” which means “death”, as David Lagercrantz liked it to be. However the sound of it is a reference to thanatos/death and often used as a word game since ...death is immortal. Actually Stan Lee got it perfectly right when he created the immortal Thanos; David Lagercrantz ….


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