The Girl in the Spider’s Web
A Lisbeth Salander Novel
by David Lagercrantz
Published by Alfred A Knopf
Question: What does a computer company in California, the NSA, a group of hackers, the Russian mob, a scientist, and an autistic child have in common?
Answer: A girl with a dragon tattoo!
Lisbeth Salander is back – and it’s been a long time coming!
For those of you who may not know, the first three books in the series were written by Stieg Larsson. Dubbed “The Millennium Series”, the books, and subsequent movies, became mega-hits after Larsson’s death in 2004.
The story goes that he had planned on a ten book series, but had only partially completed the fourth book at the time of his death. A legal battle ensued between his long-time partner Eva Gabrielsson, who he never married, and his his estate, which was controlled by his father and brother. It is believed that Gabrielsson is still in possession of Larsson’s computer and the unfinished fourth manuscript; however this book is not based on that manuscript. Instead, this book was written completely from scratch with the permission of Larsson’s estate (his father and brother). The entire story can be found on the wiki page at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_series
It’s been about 5 years since I read the last book in the series, so my mind isn’t as fresh on the writing style of Stieg Larsson, but I can tell you that David Lagercrantz does a fine job of bringing these characters back to us, and there was never any sense that this book did not belong with the initial trilogy.
The story and the characters are intricately woven together and it can seem disjointed at first, but what’s important to note is that what may seem inconsequential at the beginning becomes very meaningful later on. With a book like this it’s very important to pay attention to every detail and to read each word. Every. Single. Word.
So, back to my original question – how do these seemingly unrelated entities all wind up together?
When a respected scientist leaves his job at a computer company in California, to care for his autistic son back in Sweden, the NSA receives some chatter that he may be in danger. His work on artificial intelligence is widely regarded as leading edge, and it seems everyone wants to get their hands on it. Between the leaks in the police and the corruption of big business it’s clear that some people will go to any lengths to gain the upper hand. Including the Russian mob – with ties back to Lisbeth’s father.
The book begins from various points of view, and introduces you to some new characters that will play a larger role in the story. Of course there is also the point of view from Mikael Blomkvist, the co-lead character in the previous three books, as we get some insight into his life since the last book. Things are not going well for Blomkvist, or for his magazine, Millennium.
Blomkvist and Salander have not been in contact with each other for quite some time, and the journalist is feeling the pressure of not having written anything earth shattering in a while. Just as he’s starting to be called out by the Swedish media as a “has-been”, and even worse, Mikael is drawn into a case of stolen research and murder. When he realizes that his favorite hacker is somehow involved he asks for her help. Lisbeth will help, but she also has her own agenda as she continues to struggle to put her past behind her.
Throughout the book there is little interaction between Mikael and Lisbeth, but as usual the two of them find a way to work together to solve the mystery and bring the bad guys to justice. We also see a bit of a different side of Lisbeth in this book, which was refreshing, but when the Lisbeth that we’ve come to know from the other three books is front and center, Lagercrantz doesn’t miss a beat. She’s still a favorite character.
Like the first book in the original series, this one gets off to a bit of a slow start. But right around the 120 page mark there is an incident that feels like a kick to the stomach and you realize – here we go! From that point on the pace picks up, and since the story takes place over a span of only a few days, it’s a race to a very satisfying ending.
One difference that I noticed is that this book isn’t as graphic or gory as the first three, but it still maintains a high level of suspense. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in just about two days.
If you’re a fan of the original trilogy it’s a must read. If you haven’t read the first three books this one might be a bit confusing to start out with – but to the credit of the author or publisher there is a list of continuing characters from the first three books at the beginning of this book. I don’t believe that you have to have read the other three books to enjoy this one – but I highly recommend them as well. As a fan of the series I hope to see it continue.
Any other Lisbeth Salander fans out there? Please leave a comment, and let me know if you think this one lived up to the other three.