Has a Fourth 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' Novel Been Discovered?

[caption id="attachment_10977" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Vintage Crime"]"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" book cover[/caption]

It's a plot worthy of a Hollywood thriller: a world-famous author dies under mysterious circumstances, leaving his family and his girlfriend to battle over his unpublished masterpiece -- which then vanishes, never to be seen again.

But this story is stranger than fiction... because its true. And that missing manuscript? Well, it's only the final installment to one of the most popular series in the world, Steig Larsson's "Millenium Trilogy."

Holy schnikes.

For those of you who have been living  in a cave with a box of scraps for the last few years, Larsson's trilogy of Lisbeth Salander thrillers, which begins with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," became a worldwide book and film phenomenon only after Larsson's sudden death in 2004 (which, despite conspiracy theories, was actually caused by a non-mysterious heart attack).

What many don't know, however, is that at the time of his death he had just finished work on a fourth book in the series -- a book which has since vanished as part of a legal dispute between Larsson's family and his long-time girlfriend Eva Gabrielsson.

In fact, many people thought the rumors of a fourth book were just some kind of internet hoax, but thanks to CBS News, its existence has been confirmed along with a new shocker: the missing manuscript is actually for book five in what Larsson planned to be a 10-volume series.

"This book number four," Larrson's brother Joakim told CBS News, "that's book number five, because he thought that was more fun to write than book number four."

Before fans of Larsson and his iconic lead character begin salivating, though, chances of the missing book ever seeing the light of day are remote at best. Gabrielsson has refused both media requests to discuss the book and overtures from the family to work together to oversee Larsson's legacy. And even if some kind of deal is reached, the Larsson family has already declared that they have no intentions of ever publishing the book anyway.

Still, news of a fourth book -- not to mention the possibility of notes on those other six volumes, which could theoretically be expanded into full novels by other writers -- are enough to make even the most casual fan feel giddy with excitement.

So will growing worldwide demand to see the manuscript, not to mention Hollywood's financial clout, finally force the script out of hiding? We sure hope so, but whatever the outcome, we have to hand it to Larsson.

Even in death, he's writing a compelling story.