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The Girl in the Spider's Web, sequel to Dragon Tattoo books, hits stores

Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millenium trilogy is given new life by a new author, 11 years after Larsson's death, with a fourth novel called The Girl in the Spider's Web.

Controversial sequel to Millennium series continues the adventures of Salander and Blomkvis

The much anticipated and controversial sequel to the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, which began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is being released for fans to judge for themselves.

The new book hits shelves in book stores today in Europe and on Tuesday in North America.

Larsson penned the three novels but died of a heart attack at age 50 in 2004, after handing the manuscripts to his Swedish publisher. The books went on to become international bestsellers, with more than 80 million copies sold, including 2.5 million in Canada.

Movie adaptations were done in Sweden, as well as an English language version in 2011, directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer.

But fans wanted more thrilling adventures about middle-aged investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and punky computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. So the Swedish publisher and Larsson's estate hired writer David Lagercrantz to write a sequel.

Nicole Winstanley, VP of Penguin Random House Canada, on The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz 1:29

'Tasteless' and 'idiotic,' says Larsson's partner

But not everyone was excited by the plan. Larsson's long-term partner Eva Gabrielsson called the move "tasteless" and the choice of substitute author "idiotic." But under Swedish law since she and Larsson were never married, the control of Larsson's estate went to the author's father and brother.

Stieg Larsson's books have become an international sensation since his death in 2004. Is it right for the series to be taken over by another writer? (Britt-Marie Trensmar)
Well known Swedish journalist and author Lagercrantz wrote the new book, called The Girl in the Spider's Web in its English translation, under tight secrecy, using a computer that wasn't connected to the internet, for fear the contents would be leaked.

In a press conference on Wednesday in Stockholm, Lagercrantz said, "I have this deepest, deepest respect for Stieg Larsson. I mean not only for the great books that he's written but also because of his fight against racism, for feminism."

Lagercrantz 'absolutely terrified' by the challenge

He admitted that he was "absolutely terrified" at the challenge of continuing Larsson's beloved characters in a new plot of his own invention.

Swedish writer David Lagercrantz was chosen to continue the Millennium series by Larsson's estate. (Magnus Liam Karlsson)
But Nicole Winstanley, VP of Penguin Random House Canada, says she's confident the choice paid off. "I think fans will find themselves instantly immersed and reunited with Blomkvist and Lisbeth and be relieved to do so," she told CBC News.  

Readers who loved the original works will "be very happy with the way he's treated these characters," she said, "and how much time and effort he put in getting it right."

Mark Medley, books editor for The Globe and Mail, got a chance to read an advance copy of The Girl in the Spider's Web. He calls it "the most interesting novel of the year" because it combines the much loved characters created by Larsson with the twist of having a new writer continue the saga. 

"I'd be very surprised if it doesn't top the bestseller lists abroad and at home in the coming weeks," he told CBC News. "I think this is going to be a juggernaut."

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