Stockholm: The eagerly-awaited sequel to Stieg Larsson`s best-selling Millennium crime trilogy went on sale on Thursday in 25 countries, with a Stockholm bookstore opening at midnight to sell the first copies.
A crowd of around 50 people, most of them men, gathered outside the shop in the Swedish capital for the special one-hour opening in order to buy one of the first copies of "The Girl in the Spider`s Web" and have it signed in person by the author, David Lagercrantz.
The 52-year-old writer said he was excited to meet the series` fans.
"It`s amazing," he said, smiling as he took a seat behind a desk to sign his book, piles of which were heaped on the table.
"I have a special relationship to Millennium. It`s the first real book I read in Swedish so when I heard that there was a bookstore where you could buy the new one I had to come," Giulia, a 30-year-old Italian, told AFP.
The plot of the 500-page thriller has been shrouded in secrecy. The Swedish publisher Norstedts has only allowed a few people to read the book in advance, and released only a brief teaser about it on its website.
The novel picks up the trail of tattooed computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, characters created by Larsson who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 at age 50, before the trilogy was published in 2005-2007.
The series has gone on to sell 80 million copies worldwide.
"I came early so I could soak up the atmosphere. I was the first one to get my book signed," said Per, 38.
"It`s going to be really fun to read the book. Of course I`m going to compare it (to Larsson`s trilogy) but I think it will be good," he said.
Some couldn`t wait to crack open the book.
"I came on the subway, that way I can start reading on my way home," admitted Rickard de Boussard, 57.
A total of 2.7 million copies have been printed, including 500,000 in the US where it goes on sale September 1.
Lagercrantz earlier told AFP he was "scared to death" that his sequel wouldn`t live up to Larsson`s trilogy.