The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, and the two subsequent novels that made up the Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Blomkvist trilogy, were a thing a few years ago. It was hard to find anyone who reads mysteries who didn’t tackle at least the first of this trilogy. Movies were made, both in Sweden and the United States. I read all three novels, and enjoyed them. Lisbeth Salander is a character the reader is unlikely to forget, whether you like her or dislike her.
So, I was excited but surprised when I came across The Girl in the Spider’s Web a few months ago. The title had a familiar ring to it (the other two books in the trilogy were The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest), but I was certain it couldn’t be a new novel by Stieg Larsson because, well, the author had died.
These days, however, that doesn’t stop sequels from being written. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels have been continued by a new writer despite the fact that Parker had died. The same holds true for Vince Flynn’s iconic Mitch Rapp series. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lisbeth Salander has reappeared, penned by a new author, David Lagercrantz.
In this latest installment, a genius named Frans Balder has been developing artificial intelligence that could turn the world upside down. Surprisingly, he drops it all to take care of his 8-year-old son who is autistic. He contacts investigative reporter extraordinaire Mikael Blomkvist and requests a meeting to tell him about his work and to express his concern that he is being followed by bad people trying to steal what he knows. Unfortunately, he is killed before the meeting can take place.
Blomkvist of course is intrigued and seeks out his friend, Lisbeth Salander, herself a computer genius and all-around tough guy, only to find she is already deeply involved, but for her own reasons. What follows is an intricately crafted story of murder and mayhem.
There are very mixed opinions on how good a job Lagercrantz did in continuing the series. As far as I am concerned, he did an excellent job. The novels have always had an odd tone to them, largely perhaps because they are a translation from Swedish. Still, the novels have always had an unusual way that they present the characters, and I would not have been able to tell the difference if I didn’t know it was a new author. I think perhaps Lagercrantz’s stories were less sexually explicit. I thought he did a good job of capturing Salander’s complex nature.
I wouldn’t recommend that a person pick up this book if they haven’t already read the others. While I applaud Lagercrantz’s writing, I believe it is necessary to read Larsson’s depictions of Salander to truly get a picture of her character.
The Girl in the Spider’s Nest entails a lot of detail about computers and complex math concepts that I found a bit tiring. But I also found it interesting and somewhat frightening.
If you are a fan of the original series, this is a must-read. If you haven’t read Larssen’s trilogy, start with those.