Arts and Entertainment David Fincher's Gone Girl cover, shot for Entertainment Weekly

The actors are pictured lying on an autopsy in David Pincher's creepy cover

Popular fiction eclipses ghost-written celebrity biographies in book charts

His novels have been described as "the literary equivalent of painting by numbers, by an artist who can't even stay within the lines".

The Top 10 Christmas book chart

Dan Brown's record-breaking mystery thriller The Lost Symbol has topped the book charts for Christmas.

Best genre fiction of 2009: Dan Brown and Stephen King the salvation of the publishing industry?

This was the year that e-books made their presence known, and bookshops increasingly showed signs of strain, meaning that key publishers found their fortunes ever more dependent on a handful of superstar genre writers. But do theses novels deserve the power they are afforded, or indeed the critical snipes they so often receive?

Best crime books for Christmas

It's a crying shame that one of the best crime books of the year is also the last from its author. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (translated by Reg Keeland; MacLehose, £18.99) is the final instalment of Stieg Larsson's captivating trilogy, starring the amoral but appealing Lisbeth Salander. Larsson's untimely death has left crime fiction fans without one of the genre's great new voices.

Best audio books of 2009: Ghost stories and thrillers make for good listening

This season delivers a bumper crop of excellent thrillers. In William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms (Whole Story Audio, £24.46), Adam Kindred, wanted for a gruesome murder of which he is innocent, goes to ground in London. He lives rough, creating a new identity for himself and gradually unravels a huge pharmaceutical fraud. Boyd visits and forensically examines virtually every level of contemporary society, from prostitutes and hellfire evangelists to scientists, corrupt City types and an ex-soldier turned hired gun. Compellingly read by Martyn Ellis, it is a serious, thoughtful and provocative novel. And it speeds along faster than a cheetah.

Audio book: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, By Stieg Larsson, read by Martin Wenner

The brilliant young maverick investigator Lisbeth Salander spends half of this book immobile in a hospital bed. Shot three times, once in the head, and buried in a shallow grave, she has somehow emerged and found enough strength to bash in her wicked father's head with an axe. He, the old Russian defector Zalachenko, has also survived and lies, similarly bandaged, in the next room. One seems certain to kill the other.

What was the secret of Stieg Larsson's extraordinary success?

Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' trilogy has captivated millions of readers. Boyd Tonkin assesses the final book and asks the late writer's partner, Eva Gabrielsson, about the roots of his success

Understanding Swedish society through Stieg Larsson's popular fiction

Blockbusters might not be great literature but they shape how we see the world

The Girl Who Played with Fire, By Stieg Larsson trs Reg Keeland

The second in Stieg Larsson's posthumous Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a thriller with liberal tendencies, in which all the baddies are a) male and b) sexist, and all the goodies are socially conscious crusaders.

Hit & Run: Monroe or misfits?

When Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, Joan Holloway was so devastated that she had to go and lie down in a darkened room for an entire afternoon. "This world destroyed her," she wept to her uncomprehending boss. Joan is fictional – the sad but sassy secretary whose sexuality dominates the offices of Sterling Cooper in the TV drama Mad Men – but her reaction to the star's demise is entirely realistic.

Wallander: Swede dreams are made of this

Kenneth Branagh's 'Wallander' captivated TV viewers. Now, as BBC4 shows the Scandinavian original, Geoffrey Macnab examines their different emphases on detectives, darkness and alienation

The Girl Who Played With Fire, By Stieg Larsson

What explains the sky-rocketing success of the late author's Millennium thrillers – even in translation-wary Britain? For all their serpentine plot-twists, spanking pace and contagious anger about the dirty dealings of the top-drawer Swedish sleazebags who debauch a one-proud welfare state, Larsson's mysteries would never have hit the sales stratosphere without Lisbeth Salander.

Dangerous dykes: Have lesbian writers cracked the male-dominated crime fiction genre?

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, in which a club full of gay men fought back against the New York police sent to raid them. Thereby they founded the gay rights movement which evolved into the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement - or LGBT to its friends. The "L" comes first because, even in those early days of liberation and pride, it was obvious that the women were second-class citizens. If you're working to free an oppressed minority, it's not clever to create a sub-minority at the start.

Woman with Birthmark, By Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson

At last – an upbeat Swedish cop
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