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Category: thriller

Kathryn Stockett and Janet Evanovich become Kindle million-sellers

Kathryn Stockett, author of "The Help," and Janet Evanovich, known for her popular mystery series, have both joined the Kindle million-seller club, Amazon announced Tuesday.

The Kindle million-seller club are those authors whose books have sold more than 1 million Kindle e-book copies.

So far, it's a pretty small club. Steig Larsson was the first to cross the 1-million Kindle ebook mark first, followed by thriller-writer James Patterson and romance maven Nora Roberts. Then came Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse books, which are the basis for the HBO vampire series "True Blood." Lee Child, Suzanne Collins and Michael Connelly are also million-sellers. Independent author John Locke was the first to become a Kindle million-seller without the support of a major publisher.

For Stockett, joining the Kindle million-seller club means just one thing: "The Help" has sold that many Kindle ebooks. It's her only book -- Stockett had a hard time finding a publisher -- and it has been a long-lived bestseller in both hardcover and paperback. Last week, the film adaptation was released; the movie came in second at the box office over the weekend and, apparently, sparked the interest of Kindle owners who hadn't yet purchased the book.

Evanovich has many more books behind her: The Stephanie Plum novels are numbered -- "One for the Money, " "Two for the Dough," up to "Smokin' Seventeen," and she's written a number of other books, too. It may make for a difficult schedule for a writer to be wrapped up in a popular series, publishing a book a year or more, but it also makes for a big body of popular work. That's what's helped Lee Child and James Patterson make the million-seller list: a deep backlist of books readers want to have on the Kindle, books they might have missed the first time around or have in another format.

Notably absent from the Kindle million-seller club is Stephenie Meyer. The "Twilight" author was among the first five authors to reach 500,000 Kindle ebook sales last July, but the other authors have continued on to sell more than 1 million, while she has not. At least, not yet.


Independent author John Locke sells 1 million Kindle ebooks, but at what cost?

Amazon now sells more Kindle ebooks than print books

Charlaine Harris sells 1 million Kindle ebooks

-- Carolyn Kellogg


Eva Gabrielsson: The woman behind the man who wrote 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

Evagabrielsson Swedish author Stieg Larsson hit big -- really big -- with his crime novels "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest." Sadly, he didn't live to see his books find the massive international audience that they eventually did -- he died of a heart attack at age 50 in 2004.

Even sadder is that his literary success has led to wrestling over his estate between his family and his longtime companion, architect and author Eva Gabrielsson, who was with Larsson for 32 years. They never married; Larsson feared his political writings might make him a target.

Gabrielsson explains that and more in her new book, "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me," reviewed Wednesday by Evelyn McDonnell.

Bereaved and depressed after Larsson's death, Gabrielsson found herself in an epic, public war with Larsson's father and brother over the writer's increasingly valuable estate. She was a widow emotionally, but legally, she was a concubine — without any inheritance rights. Family and partner fought ugly battles in the European media. Gabrielsson continues to wield her most powerful, if dubiously ethical, weapon: She refuses to help finish the next books in the series, or to answer where Larsson's missing computer — with the unfinished manuscripts — is, until she's given control of his literary estate. The issue is not money, she says, but her ability to guard her partner's artistic integrity.

Gabrielsson does recall her personal life with Larsson: the prosaic details of their devotion to coffee, and the bigger picture of their shared political passions (Trotskyism, anti-racism, feminism). "Politics with him was not a chore or a duty, the way I'd thought it would be, but a real pleasure — which was something of a rare experience in our austere milieu," she writes.

The book's title refers to a line Larsson wrote about Lisbeth Salander, the now-famous girl with the dragon tattoo, that Gabrielsson says is a saying of hers. Some have speculated that she helped Larsson in writing his bestsellers, but this book, McDonnell writes, lacks the panache of his thrillers.

For thrills, fans of his books can look forward to the first American movie adaptation from the series, David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, coming in December.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Eva Gabrielsson in 2009. Credit: Rob Schoenbaum / For The Times

In our pages: John Le Carré still looks good

Johnlecarre_in2008John Le Carré's classic, seminal spy novel "Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy" has been reissued by Penguin with a new introduction by the author. In it he reveals that an early draft of the novel proved so frustrating that he took it outside and burned it.

When he started over, Richard Rayner writes in today's L.A. Times, Le Carré came up with what is "perhaps the greatest spy novel written."

The reader's unlikely guide through these labyrinthine intricacies is George Smiley, a plodding, padding spy-as-bureaucrat .... he's a mournful aging hero as determinedly unglamorous as he is dogged and brilliant. Le Carré introduces him thus: "[H]e was by appearance one of London's meek who do not inherit the earth. His legs were short, his gait anything but agile, his dress costly, ill-fitting, and extremely wet."

Smiley's overcoat has a "hint of widowhood" about it, and his serially unfaithful wife, the lovely Ann, says he looks like "an egg-cosy." James Bond or Jason Bourne, Smiley is not. He's presented to us as being out of favor, living in enforced retirement, shabbily treated as the result of a secret op botched by his former boss and mentor, a character known simply as "Control" who, in the latter stages of his career and life, became obsessed with the idea that the Soviets had turned his networks inside-out through the agency of a mole.

Read Rayner's full review.

This fall, a film version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" will hit theaters just before Thanksgiving, starring Gary Oldman (will I be the only one in the theater trying to reconcile Joe Orton, Sid Vicious and George Smiley?). Alec Guiness starred as Smiley in the 1979 version "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," produced for television by the BBC.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John Le Carré in 2008. Credit: Cristian Barnett / Hodder & Stoughton

Massive mystery book sale to benefit Pasadena Public Library


It took two 10-foot U-Haul trucks packed to the ceiling to carry Tom McGuinn's collection of mystery novels away. McGuinn's inventory, amassed over more than 40 years, has been given by his widow to the nonprofit Friends of the Pasadena Public Library. On Saturday the organization will be selling those books in a massive mystery book sale to benefit the library's programs.

In all, there are about 9,000 mysteries, stretching from the last few years back to the 1970s. The books are, for the most part, bestsellers -- books by Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Daniel Silva, Jonathan Kellerman and many, many more.

Of those books, more than 3,600 have been signed by their author. That's an enormous number McGuinn gathered from various sources, according to the Friends of the Pasada Public Library's Helen Overstreet. He went to book signings, attended the annual Book Expo publishing conference and bought them signed from bookstores when he traveled.

"Everything is in absolutely pristine condition," Overstreet added. There are hardcovers and paperbacks, and almost all -- even those signed books -- will be sold for 50 cents to $5.

A few of the book books are signed and numbered limited editions (could they have come from Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop in New York?). Although she suspects they may be worth much more, Overstreet says they will be priced at around $20.

The mystery book sale will be held at Roosevelt Elementary School in Pasadena. There will be a $20 fee for early birds at 9 a.m.; admission is free after 9:45. The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library ask buyers to bring their own bags and boxes; they've got their hands full just getting everything alphabetized. The sale is cash only.

-- Carolyn Kellogg


John Le Carre stirs controversy trying to withdraw from prize consideration

Johnlecarre_2008 Who would have thought that removing your name from contention for a highly competitive prize worth nearly $100,000 would be a problem? But when your name is John le Carré, bowing out graciously apparently isn't an option.

The prize is the Man Booker International, which is awarded every other year to an author from any nation for his or her body of work that's either been published in English or widely translated. Like the Nobel, it serves as a kind of lifetime achievement award, and its prize money -- more than $96,000 -- is certainly a nice bonus. It announced 13 finalists Tuesday, including Americans Philip Roth, Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson -- and Le Carré.

Apparently, Le Carré, who's been a regular on bestseller lists -- including ours -- since the appearance there of his 1964 thriller "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," says he's all right, thanks. "I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of 2011 Man Booker International Prize," he said in a statement issued through his literary agent. "However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn."

But dropping out isn't so easy. "John le Carré's name will, of course, remain on the list," the Man Booker International's judges chair, Rick Gekoski, said in a statement. "We are disappointed that he wants to withdraw from further consideration because we are great admirers of his work."

That work continues to impress. Tim Rutten called Le Carré "our greatest living master of espionage fiction" when he reviewed "Our Kind of Traitor," which came out in October 2010. It was Le Carré's 22nd novel; several of his books, including "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "The Constant Gardner" and "The Tailor of Panama" have been made into films.

The Man Booker International Prize will be awarded to someone -- probably, after all this, not Le Carré -- at the Sydney Writers' Festival in Australia on May 18 and celebrated in London on June 28.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John Le Carré in 2008. Credit: Cristian Barnett / Hodder & Stoughton

Rumors of the fourth 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' book surface

Girldragontat When Swedish author Stieg Larsson died in 2004, he couldn't have imagined what a blockbuster international bestseller his "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" mystery series would become.

The three books -- published in the U.S. as "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" -- are collectively called "The Millennium Series." There are only those three -- but maybe there's a fourth.

Both his surviving family and his longtime girlfriend claim they've seen it. There have been rumors that either party may publish it. And Monday, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that a friend has told a Swedish newspaper about the contents of the manuscript of the fourth book, which Larsson left behind.

Larsson confidant Kurdo Baksi told Swedish daily paper the Expressen that Camilla, the estranged twin sister of Millennium’s goth hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander, plays a major role in the fourth book. Camilla was seen only briefly in the second Millennium novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Baksi is quoted in Expressen as saying the fourth novel is set on the remote Banks Island in Canada and further deepens the relationship between Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist. Baksi, whose book My friend Stieg Larsson was a best-seller last year, added that before he died Larsson completed a detailed introduction and a finale to the fourth book.  

Larsson died suddenly in 2004, before the three Millennium books were published. But it's been widely reported that he had plans for a series of five or six books.

Larsson's family and his girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson, have been tussling over the author's estate and the possible continuation of the "Millennium Series." Gabrielsson and Larsson declined to get married as a political move, but that has meant that her legal standing is tenuous at best. Gabrielsson -- who is thought to be something of a model for the radical heroine Lisbeth Salander -- has been fighting for her place in Larsson's legacy, and has said she has a manuscript for his fourth book that she can finish.

In October 2010, Larsson's brother Joakim told "CBS Sunday Morning" that his brother had emailed him the manuscript 10 days before he died.

Paul Bogards, the publicity manager for Knopf, the series' American publisher, told The Times that the fourth book is "a subject of much speculation among Larsson readers. At some point, one hopes that there is a finality to the question about the fourth book."

The Swedish film adaptations launched the career of actress Noomi Rapace. The American version is much anticipated: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig is expected in December.


News about Stieg Larsson's next book

Stieg Larsson's next girl

L.A. Times bestseller list: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Holidays with Lisbeth Salander: Stieg Larsson book set on the way

LarssonboxsetThe three volumes of Stieg Larsson's wildly popular Millennium Trilogy -- "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" -- will be released as a box set, with an additional book about the author, in time for the holidays, publisher Knopf has announced.

The three books make up the complete set of mysteries featuring Lisbeth Salander, an edgy computer hacker, and journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Written in Swedish by Larsson, a journalist who died of cancer in 2004, the books are reported to have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

The series' popularity, rather than working against the box set, makes it a prime candidate for bookish gift-givers.

Fans hungry for more on the deceased author will be particularly interested in the fourth book, "On Stieg Larsson" (not pictured here). A slim volume of 96 pages, "On Stieg Larsson" includes e-mails between Larsson and his editor, as well as four previously unpublished essays about the author and his work.

Each of the four volumes will include maps and colored end papers. The set, which will appear in stores around Thanksgiving, will retail for $99. 

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: An advance look at the Stieg Larsson box set, before the inclusion of the fourth book about the author. Credit: Alfred A. Knopf

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Glenn Beck's 'The Overton Window': incoherent and not at all thrilling


Conservative commentator Glenn Beck has written a novel. It's the story of a bachelor, his villainous father, a 100-year old liberal conspiracy and a stolen nuclear weapon. It is called "The Overton Window: A Thriller." It is not good.

Our reviewer Tim Rutten writes:

There is nothing even remotely thrilling about this didactic, discursive -- sporadically incoherent -- novel. The image of a train wreck comes quickly to mind, though this book actually has more the character -- and all of the excitement -- of a lurching, low-speed derailment halfway out of the station.

Rutten includes a sample of Beck's prose -- or rather, the prose from Beck's writing team. Glenn Beck himself is busy -- probably too busy to sit down and write a novel even if he really wanted to. But according to what he told USA Today -- "I don't write. I speak. I get bogged down in writing." -- he doesn't really want to.

Beck is an enthusiastic reader, though, so maybe he's just trying to distance himself from "The Overton Window's" prose. Rutten quotes from the scene when the protagonist first sees his love interest:

Something about this woman defied a traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory. Without a doubt all the goodies were in all the right places, but no mere scale of one to 10 was going to do the job this time. It was an entirely new experience for him. Though he'd been in her presence for less than a minute, her soul had locked itself onto his senses, far more than her substance had.

Goodies, soul connections and all, Glenn Beck's "The Overton Window" has climbed to No. 3 on Amazon's bestseller list. The only thing standing between it and the top spot is deceased Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, and his books "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Glenn Beck in March 2009. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

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