In Lisbeth Salander, Swedish writer Stieg Larsson created one of the most memorable characters in modern literature. So because of thi – and also in spite of it – his untimely death and the roaring success of his Millenium series leads us to the book I am referring to today, The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
David Lagerkrantz , himself an accomplished Swedish journalist and novelist, was commissioned to add to the series. Controversy. This makes this novel a must-read if you ask me.
Starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Millennium series is brutal, brilliant and compelling. The Girl in the Spider’s Web has a different feel to me, but not altogether an unpleasant one. The plot is good – it kept me interested throughout. Mikael Blomkvist is back, but his career is becoming a joke as the digital age makes print journalism a curio of the past. But when AI specialise Franz Balder contacts Blomkvist with the promise of a story and turns up dead, he stumbles onto Lisbeth again, who is already keeping tabs on the wider context of the murder.
Blomkvist and Salander spend little time together in this book, mostly functioning on the mutual respect they have for each other’s abilities. Most interestingly, Salander spends a good portion of the novel protecting and attempting to communicate with Balder’s son, August. This is a fascinating relationship, drawing out the parallels between them. Both suffered abuse in their early years, and both have genius intellects – and possibly autistic qualities. August holds the key to the whole murder investigation, and only Salander seems to be able to unlock it from his mind.
So the plot works. What is different to me, is the whole tone of the novel. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is far less bleak and violent than the rest of the Millennium series, which was confronting in many places. I can’t say that I missed this – but probably many will. I’d continue to read any books Lagerkrantz contributes to the series, the characters and scenarios remain interesting, but it’s clear an era really is over. Whether you like this new one will be up to you.