New Revelations from the Man Who Broke the Story About What’s in Stieg Larsson’s Mysterious Fourth Book
John-Henri Holmberg, the decades-long friend of Stieg Larsson and the man who first broke the story about what is in the “missing” fourth book in the Millennium novels, reveals additional details in The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson And the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time, a new book to be published in May by St. Martin’s.
Holmberg, who teamed up with Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, writers of the New York Times best-selling “Secrets” series for The Tattooed Girl, is a Swedish writer, critic, translator, and editor who first met Stieg Larsson at a Swedish science fiction convention in 1972, when Larsson was only 17. They would remain friends until Larsson’s death 32 years later.
Stieg Larsson showed Holmberg all three of the Millennium novels in manuscript form and discussed publishing strategies with him. Just before his death, Larsson also corresponded with Holmberg key details from the planned fourth Millennium book.
In The Tattooed Girl, Holmberg quotes directly from Stieg Larsson’s correspondence with him just weeks before the author’s untimely death, in which he Larsson said:
“I am 320 pages into Salander 4 and hope to be finished in December. According to my synopsis, it should end up 440 pages. I have rearranged the order; this one was actually meant to be Salander 5, but [was] much more fun to write, so I’ve changed the beginning a bit to make it fit to the ending of the third.”
Holmberg also tells readers that Larsson told him that just as in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the trilogy, “Salander 4” (i.e., the fourth book in the series), would also be set on an island, in this case Banks Island, 75 miles north of Sachs Harbor in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories.
Larsson also shared with Holmberg some of the amusing details for which he was known among his friends; for example, that in the area of Sachs Harbor “there are 48,000 musk oxen and 80 different wildflowers that bloom two weeks in early July, as well as an estimated 1,500 polar bears. . . just in case you happen to feel a sudden need of an all-around education.”
What will Lisbeth Salander be doing there? Certainly dealing with more of her demons and enemies. And, Holmberg speculates, confronting one or more of her seven siblings, such as her twin sister Camilla whom she last saw in Stockholm on their seventeenth birthday when they had a big fight. Several of her other siblings are said to be “engaged in various aspects of the international crime syndicate her father, Zalachenko, has built.” Holmberg further speculates that at the conclusion of the fourth book, Salander will remove one more tattoo from the ten Larsson gave her at the start of the series, each relating to one of the ten books Larsson had planned for the series.
Find many more thought provoking ideas in Holmberg’s essay, “The Mystery of the Fourth Book,” in The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson And the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time, by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer, and John-Henri Holmberg.