If the name Stieg Larsson doesn't mean anything to you, then we have one question: Where have you been?
Riding high in sales charts all over the world, translated into around forty languages so far, dubbed "the virus from the north" in France due to their staggering success, the books of Swedish journalist, activist and crime-novelist Larsson's Millennium Trilogy - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and, due for release in October, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest - have landed on bookshelves and promptly enjoyed an explosion of popularity akin to a small nuclear device.
Alas the man himself cannot enjoy the fame which his three-volume blockbuster has brought him: he died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack in November 2004 at the age of 50. Founder of the anti-racist EXPO Foundation in 1995 and editor in chief of EXPO magazine, Larsson possessed a life long commitment to counteracting racism and right-wing white-power extremism. He was also among other things a successful graphic designer, chairman of the Scandinavian Science-Fiction Society and publisher of two sci-fi magazines. A man of many parts indeed.
So, a new popular crime/thriller series, in and of itself nothing extraordinary there. However the exciting thing about Larsson's books is that they are, and continue to be, appealing to an unusually broad range of readers: men and women, young and old, hard-core crime readers and holiday readers alike are champing at the bit to get their hands on the final volume this October. As to their plot, well without giving anything away, the books centre largely on Mikael Blomkvist, down-at-heel journalist and editor of the controversial Millennium magazine, and Lisbeth Salander the spiky, troubled, mysterious hacker-turned-private-investigator and titular girl with the dragon tattoo. Mystery, violence, romance and sexual politics are the order of the day, and while Larsson does take time to stop and reflect - on the scenic wonder of his home country, on the moral dilemmas of his main characters - these books are all about fast-paced, page-devouring, eye-tiring action and mystery.
And with a Swedish film already successfully released and rumours of a Quentin Tarantino-helmed adaptation with Brad Pitt in the lead role, the hype surrounding the Millennium Trilogy shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
Millennium Trilogy V1: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & Millennium Trilogy V2: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Published By Quercus, In Store now
Millennium Trilogy V3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
Published By Quercus, released 1 October