Plenty of real-life drama over "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series

The trilogy of thrillers penned by Swedish author Stieg Larsson are selling like hotcakes and making headlines for some unusual reasons.

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Celebrity arrived late in the life of Stieg Larsson, author of the mega-selling thriller series kicked off by "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Today, however, it seems difficult to scan headlines without seeing mention of his name.

Larsson, a Swedish journalist and political activist, became an international celebrity only after his sudden death at the age of 50 in 2004, when three of his unpublished manuscripts were brought to press. Today – under the titles of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire," and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" – these gritty thrillers are being read all over the globe. Reader fascination with Larsson's heroine Lisbeth Salander – an eccentric, intelligent, socially awkward 20-something with a photographic memory – last year turned Larsson into the second best-selling author in the world (behind "The Kite Runner" author Khaled Hosseini).

But what to do with Larsson's $20 million-plus fortune? Legally, because Larsson never married Eva Gabrielsson, his companion of 30 years, it goes to Larsson's father and brother. But the two sides have now entered into a very public feud over the money.

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The latest news came Friday, when Gabrielsson refused the 20 million Swedish krona ($2.8 million US) offered to her by Larsson's father and brother.

Then, in the US, there have been more headlines generated over sales of the third installment of Larsson's trilogy, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." The English version of the book has been published in the UK but is not scheduled for release in the US until May. US readers, however, don't want to wait when it comes to learning about of the latest adventures of Lisbeth Salander.

So some US booksellers have been making yet another round of headlines by importing the book from the UK and then re-selling it – for prices of up to $40 (a move that industry newsletter PublishersLunch notes may be skirting the law.)

What will be the next debate over "The Millennium Trilogy" (as the books are being called)? Probably questions about an English-language film version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." (A Swedish version of the film has already been released.)

If Hollywood grabs it, who should direct it: Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, or Martin Scorsese? And who would play Salander's partner in crime-solving, middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomkvistis? (George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt are all rumored to have expressed interest.) But more important and harder to imagine: Who would play Lisbeth Salander?

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe

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