Stieg Larsson is an unlikely candidate for the best-seller list: Not only had he never written a novel before The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, he also died four years ago at age 50. Yet the late journalist’s literary debut still nabbed the No. 9 spot on the Publishers Weekly chart this week. Tattoo — a thriller about the disappearance of a wealthy industrialist’s niece — was a best-seller in Europe, where it won Sweden’s Glass Key award for best crime novel of 2005. But how does an unknown foreign author hit it big in the U.S.? Knopf’s push to hand out early copies, plus dazzling endorsements, didn’t hurt. ”It had a huge head of steam going into publication,” says Knopf’s Paul Bogaards, who adds that the company took out an ad in The New York Times Book Review before publication. ”If people are enthusiastic about a book, you don’t need to wait until pub date to harness it.” Expect Larsson to be a household name, even if he’s not here to enjoy his success: Tattoo is the first book in a trilogy. Look for a second volume, The Girl Who Played With Fire, in summer 2009.