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Stieg Larsson was the Swedish author best known for his Millenium novels, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
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Unfortunately, Stieg Larsson is not here to enjoy his novels' staggering success. In a story that rivals his fiction for its mystery and intrigue, Larsson died suddenly at the age of 50, on November 9, 2004, before any of his bestselling novels ever saw print. While conspiracy theories abound that one of Larsson's many political enemies played a part in his death,
the official story remains the most plausible: Larsson died of a massive heart attack when he climbed the seven flights of stairs to his office because the building's elevator was broken. He was known to be in poor health. One of his publishers, Christopher MacLehose, recalled, "He smoked over 60 cigarettes a day and was a classic workaholic. To say that he didn't give his body a chance almost understates the case. And like many driven men, he tended not to listen to the counsel of those around him—he was warned again and again that he should look after himself."
Because Larsson never wrote an official will (he did sign a will during his adolescence leaving all his property to the Communist Party, but it was not officially witnessed and therefore invalid), and because he never married his life partner Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson's estate legally belongs to his father and brother. Nevertheless, in a plot twist worthy of his novels, Gabrielsson has possession Larsson's laptop, which contains an unfinished draft of his fourth novel, and she refuses to turn it over to Larsson's family. She claims that he was estranged from his father and brother during the last years of his life (a claim they deny) and would not want the unfinished work published. The two sides have yet to come to any agreement in this ugly and very public struggle to control Larsson's legacy.
No matter the disagreement over his estate, all parties agree that Stieg Larsson was a brilliant crime novelist whose sudden and untimely death robbed the world of many more magnificent books. Larsson's Swedish publisher, Eva Gedin, summed up his life: "He was a difficult man, but brilliant and multifaceted. Many Swedes were aware of his bravery in tackling extremist organizations. He could be infuriating —and he certainly wasn't afraid of making enemies. But most of his enemies were well chosen; as for his friends and associates, frustration with him might result from the fact that he was clearly asking his body to do more than it could cope with."
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