One of the best jokes of the late Douglas Adams was the cover-line that announced “the fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker trilogy”. The Millennium Trilogy – the three books by the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, discovered after his early death in 2004 – has now also become a questionable designation, having been fattened into a quartet through a sequel commissioned by Larsson’s estate from the Swedish writer David Lagercrantz. Because the three originals were for several years as common a sight on beaches as sun umbrellas – an estimated 80m copies have been sold globally – an extension was probably economically inevitable. Due to the high risk of piracy and spoiler publicity, it has been written and published amid the sort of precautions – webless computers, encrypted emails, embargoed copies stamped with a legal warning on each of the 432 pages – that the franchise’s main character, super-hacker Lisbeth Salander, employs to help her ally, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, in his struggles with political and corporate corruption. The appearance of novels that a character’s creator didn’t write still tends to generate heated articles and tweets, but any ethical worries about posthumous continuation are challenged by the pile-up of precedents. As publishing increasingly adopts… Read full this story
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