Three Identical Strangers—and Lisbeth…

Like a few million other Americans, I watched the recent premiere of Three Identical Strangers on CNN—its most viewed documentary ever.

It is the story of three triplets separated at birth who reunite through coincidental circumstances at age 19 in 1980. The narrative arc delivered by director Tim Wardle ran its gamut for me as it was supposed to: from amazing and celebratory human interest tale to dark and painful morality play. It began by lifting my spirits and then crashed down and plumbed the depths of my emotions of pain and anger, all the while raising challenging questions about the ethics of psychiatry, about whom we entrust with society’s secrets, and about the daunting challenges of organizing the adoption process. 


From left to right: Edward Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran. Photo Brenda Galland/CNN Films.

But another bell went off for me as well: The story about what seemed to be a highly unusual and apparently deeply unethical study of triplets echoed a similarly secretive and even more frightening tale of the unethical twin study that lay at the heart of David Lagercrantz’s 2017 novel, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. Continue reading

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Why I wish the United States could hire Lisbeth Salander (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) to retaliate against Putin’s Russia

By Dan Burstein*

There’s a big problem with President Obama’s retaliatory steps taken against the regime of Vladimir Putin over Russian hacking into the American electoral process. No, the problem isn’t that the Russians aren’t guilty or don’t deserve it—they are, in my opinion, very guilty and deserve all the steps Obama has taken and much more. The problem is that, in the administration’s commitment to openness, transparency, and decency, the American side telegraphed what we were going to do, laid out the rationale, and then did it. Sure, there will be more behind-the-scenes in the future, but as we come to understand the extent of the cyberhooks the Russians have already put into our economy and public and personal lives, the game of Spy vs. Spy may escalate dramatically.

Washington would be better served hiring the admittedly fictional Lisbeth Salander, the central character of Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Larsson started writing these novels in 2002-3 and died in 2004 just before they were published and became international sensations. But even 15 years ago, he already understood not only the malevolent nature of Russian power versus western democracies, but also the tricks of the trade of cyber-warfare. Continue reading

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Christmas with Lisbeth and Mikael

If you want to celebrate Christmas in Tattooed Girl style, you are in luck.

In our 2011 book, The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time, we looked into the high-end home espresso machine that author Stieg Larsson gave his heroine access to when he moved her into the apartment at Fiskagarten 9. Here’s our original commentary:

If you love your coffee like Lisbeth and Mikael: The Jura Impressa X7 Espresso Machine that Blomkvist finds on its own separate table in Lisbeth’s luxury apartment at Fiskargatan 9 is a real top of the line restaurant style coffee machine for home use. Although Larsson seemed to believe the cost was 70,000 Swedish kroner ($11,000 US) at the time he wrote The Girl Who Played with Fire (which was sometime around 2003-4), the current US online discount price for this magical Swiss machine is about $3,000.

Further good news for the Christmas season 2016: that very model has come down in price even more! Amazon is now selling a new Jura Impressa 7 for just under $1,500 and a reconditioned one for just under $1,000.

Jura IMPRESSA F7 Automatic Coffee Machine

Jura IMPRESSA F7 Automatic Coffee Machine
3.9 out of 5 stars 8
$1,497.00 Prime


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First editions of the Larsson trilogy up for auction

For those of you interested in the Stieg Larsson collectibles market, we received the following notice from

I wanted to share with you Auctionata’s upcoming Rare & Exceptional Book auction which will take place on Thursday, April 28 at 4pm EDT. We have an extraordinary collection of first editions and literature. Highlighting the sale are first edition copies of all three volumes of the Millennium Trilogy.

All three volumes are first edition, first printings of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, each book is in cloth and with endpapers.
This complete set of first edition hard cover books are the perfect addition to any Millennium Trilogy collection. I’d like to invite you to explore our sale:

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Guest Post: David Lagercrantz’s Girl in the Spider’s Web “was a soy milk latte to my preferred triple espresso”

We encourage readers of this blog to send us their reviews, thoughts, and comments on the recently published The Girl in the Spider’s Web novel by David Lagercrantz—the long awaited “fourth book” following on the great success of Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy. Spider’s Web is obviously controversial. Larsson died a decade ago and Lagercrantz was authorized by Larsson’s father and brother, who control the Larsson estate, as well as the Swedish publisher, to continue the saga of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist with a novel of his own invention. Below guest blogger Jill Yesko comments on David Lagercrantz’s Girl in the Spider’s Web:

I really wanted to like Spider’s Web. And it wasn’t a bad book, particularly if you weren’t a die hard fan of the trilogy. But I’m really attached to Lisbeth. I found Langercrantz’s version was a soy milk latte to my preferred triple espresso.

I think he can do better. And perhaps reader’s reviews will encourage him to do so in the next novel.

Though Stieg Larsson, creator of the Millennium Trilogy, has been gone nearly a decade, when I heard a new novel–one written by fellow Swede–was in the works, I got a little excited.

And who could blame me? Larsson created one of the most compelling, hard ass, take no prisoners, computer hacking genius heroines of early 21st century fiction.

When Larsson died the world thought we’d lost Lisbeth as well. Now we have The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the long-anticipated follow up to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Billed as “A Lisbeth Salander Novel,” Spider’s Web is to the Millennium Trilogy what hamburger is to Kobe Beef. Both are qualify as red meat, but only one is something you want to sink your teeth into.

I really wanted to like Spider’s Web. So much so that I drove across town to the library to take out the large type edition (yeah, I didn’t want the book so badly that I was willing to buy it. Still).

The problem is that The Girl in the Spider’s Web is boring. Not so boring that I wanted to put it down halfway. But enough that I don’t remember much of the plot and don’t care to visit Wikipedia to refresh my memory.

The issue is that author David Lagercranz has tried too hard to please readers hungry for what Larsson envisioned as a ten book series. Instead of picking and choosing characters to re-introduce to readers after a 10 year hiatus, he crams them all in like a Thanksgiving dinner groaning board. Too many characters with too little to do in one novel. Big mistake.

Besides, we really don’t care about lesser players like Detective Sonja Modig and heiress Harriet Vanger. Lagercranz doesn’t give his second stringers much to do other than to name check them to make readers feel like they are still in play.

The only characters readers really care about are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. And the only thing we want to know is when they are going to have sex and what it’s like.

Instead we get a watered down plot, and worse, a watered down Lisbeth Salander. Yeah, there’s an angsty Blomkvist who worries that he’s obsolete (welcome to middle age buddy).

What happened to the Lisbeth who hog tied then tattooed “I am a rapist and a sadistic pig” on her attackers torso then shoved a dildo up his ass?

Maybe Lagercranz was under pressure to present a more grown up Lisbeth or one that he thought would appeal to a more broad audience. Whatever he’s done, it’s a tremendous disservice to the legions of Lisbeth fans who want…no…demand their heroine to take control of the novel. At the very least he could have had her ride her motorcycle or punch someone other than her boxing partner.

Aside from some international computer hacking hijinx involving the NSA and the Swedish Police, there isn’t a lot going on in Spider’s Web. You get a little sucked in then the book fizzles out. There is a cliffhinger ending but it’s so timid that I wouldn’t even issue a spoiler alert.

I’ll give David Lagercrantz one more chance to breathe life back into Lisbeth Salander. Let’s hope he won’t fuck it up the second time.

Author Cover PhotoJill Yesko is the author of Murder in the Dog Park and Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery. She is directing and producing the documentary Tainted Blood: The Untold Story of the 1984 Olympic Blood Doping Scandal.

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Driving Ms. Elizabeth: Will the Tattooed Girl arrive in her Ducati…or a sputtering Vespa?

The drumbeat of publicity for the August release of the fourth Stieg Larsson book that is really not the fourth Stieg Larsen book has become louder. Leading the parade is David Lagencrantz, the publisher’s chosen heir to Stieg Larsson’s authorial chair.

In a recent interview with EW, Lagencrantz said he had dug deeply into the soul of our heroine. He struck a Bloomkvist-like pose, trying on the mantle of that character’s own thoughts about Elizabeth Salander: “She still is a riddle…but I’m just crazy about her.”

As for the “fourth book” controversy, Norstedt, its publisher, neatly sidesteps that conundrum by rather slyly promoting the book as “the fourth installment.”

One person who is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to join in the publicity-generated huzzahs is, of course, the clearly still bitter Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg’s long-time companion, who saw both his legacy and his royalties pulled out from under her by the Swedish courts (because they were not legally married). Says she: “This is not about continuing the life of a hero, it’s about a publishing house that needs money, [and] a writer who doesn’t have anything to write so he copies someone else.” Continue reading

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Charles Wright, America’s New Poet Laureate, has been reading “the Scandinavians”

The newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, Charles Wright, has said
in interviews that since retiring from his professorship at the University
of Virginia, he has more time to indulge his interest in reading things he
had tried to keep out of his mind while focusing on his poetry. According to
the New York Times, Wright “plans to keep gobbling up fiction, which he said
he had mostly denied himself before his retirement in 2010, to keep his mind
clear for poetry. Crime fiction is a particular obsession.”

And what does he like in crime fiction? The recent Scandinavian noir
writers, which no doubt includes the late Stieg Larsson. “I’ve read all the
current stuff, from Elmore Leonard to the Scandinavians,” he said. “I’ve
picked up every narrative I could get my hands on, to make up for 50 years
of nonnarrative.”

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