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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Vampires, werewolves and witches approaching puberty have nothing on a fascist-hunting journalist and his tattooed hacker-punk partner this holiday season.

After years of adults dipping into children's literature to follow Harry Potter and his Hogwarts classmates or to marvel at the sex Bella isn't having with shimmery bloodsucker Edward or lusty lycan Jacob in the


series, adult readers are finally starting to act their age. Heading into the holiday season, the "Millennium" mystery trilogy of

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


The Girl Who Played With Fire


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

by the late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson is easily the hottest series on bookstore shelves heading into December.

Released after Larsson died in 2004, the trilogy remains a fixture on the New York Times Best-Sellers list five years after Random House's Knopf Doubleday branch published the first installment. The third volume sits at No. 5 on the hardcover fiction chart after 25 weeks, while the first and second volumes are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the paperback trade fiction list, with

Dragon Tattoo

lingering on the list for 73 weeks.

The trilogy has sold 30 million copies worldwide, inspired a Swedish-language film trilogy and will receive a Daniel Craig-led American screen treatment next year -- because Americans can only be asked to read so often, and rarely at the movies -- next year. More surprisingly is that "Millennium" -- named for the publication that employs journalist and series protagonist Mikael Blomkvist -- achieved its success without the family friendliness of

Harry Potter


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. In

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

alone, the well-inked hacker antiheroine for whom the book is named -- Lisbeth Salander -- is raped in vivid detail and exacts vengeance on her attacker in similarly unflinching fashion. Protagonist and disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, meanwhile, is tortured by a pseudo-Nazi CEO who gets off by raping and murdering women. It won't inspire toy lines or Burger King tie-ins, but it's taking adult literature to places unseen since Dan Brown's

The DaVinci Code

sold 80 million copies after its release seven years ago.

"It's been our experience that the bestsellers of this magnitude tend to be kids series," says Gerry Donaghy, new-book purchasing supervisor for Portland, Ore.-based Powell's City of Books. "An adult series, say, something by Patricia Cornwell or Janet Evanovich, sells hundreds of units for us, but popular kids series (Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Wimpy Kid) sell thousands. These 'Millennium' books were really an anomaly."

While Donaghy says sales of the trilogy weren't what they were in the summer -- when he was ordering paperback copies of

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


The Girl Who Played With Fire

by the thousands -- the books are still selling more than 100 copies a week before Black Friday, thanks largely to the paperbacks' $7.99 price tag. At New York new and used bookseller The Strand, meanwhile, the trilogy has sold 250 copies in November so far.

"The 'Millennium' trilogy continues to be our bestselling series, and the first book in the series,

Dragon Tattoo

, outsells the other two volumes, indicating a growing readership ahead," says Carson Moss, book buyer at The Strand. "I have no reason to believe that will diminish in December."

That's no small task, given the strong lineup of adult titles hitting the shelves this holiday season.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain (Volume 1)

, which the writer insisted not be published until 100 years after his death, is giving the University of California press fits as it tries to keep copies on shelves. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards' autobiography


, meanwhile, rests at No. 2 on the Times' hardcover nonfiction list. A few award winners are making their way on to wish lists as well, with rocker/poet Patti Smith's

Just Kids

just winning the National Book Award last week and British author Howard Jacobsen's

The Finkler Question

taking home this year's Man Booker Prize.

According to the Strand's Moss, there's even another trilogy closing on "Millennium." The third volume of Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" trilogy,


, was just released in August with an initial run of 1.2 million copies. It's a young-adult story crossing over to readers of all ages, which is exactly why the "Millennium" trilogy's success against it stands out.

"Twilight and Harry Potter were really huge, in part, because they had a large adult readership," Powell's Donaghy says. "There is no crossover going the other way (

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

for young readers?), but as far as a strictly adult series goes (

Southern Vampire

-- aka Sookie Stackhouse -- Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton), the 'Millennium' series is by far the biggest."

Judging by the books' performance at mass-market outlets like




Barnes and Noble


-- which each counts multiple Millennium titles among their bestsellers -- the trilogy's sales aren't about to let up, either. Despite the series lingering presence in



mystery and thriller top 10 since each volume was released, that big bookseller says the best is yet to come next holiday season -- with a little help from James Bond.

"Although not as big as

Harry Potter



, the Larsson series has been a huge phenomenon at Borders: "Even when consumers haven't read the books, they have heard of them," says Mary Davis, spokeswoman for Borders. "Next year, when the American version of

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

is released in December, we will experience another large surge in popularity similar to when the

Harry Potter



movies came out."

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.