Meet Lisbeth Salander
Sensational, electrifying, hair-raising, fast-paced and ingenious, The Millennium Series introduced one of the most captivating and engrossing character, Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo to the world. Rebellious, tormented, self-destructive and fiercely independent, Salander may have been conjured out of Larsson’s own guilt as suggested by many of his friends.
Bad ass, “dressed in black, a bit of a punk, totally uncompromising”, kick boxer, a fan of Harley Davidson, enviable hacker; Lisbeth is raped, beaten, sodomized, buried alive and yet she remains undeterred and becomes a nightmare for her enemies.
Indomitable and unstoppable, Salander is a vigilante fighting for the weak and tormented and brings perpetrators to justice.
In Salander, Larsson created the character who refuses to die and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her creator.
The Millennium Series – a phenomenon
First published in 2005, The Millennium Series became a phenomenon as soon as it made its first appearance on the scene and sold around 80 million copies worldwide as of March 2015. Originally planned as a ten book series by its creator who died before witnessing the success of his work; the fourth book in the series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is commissioned by Larsson’s estate. The second most anticipated books of 2015, after Go Set a Watchman, the publication is heavily criticised by Larsson’s long- time partner, Eva Gabrielsson who refused to part with the notes prepared by Larsson for forthcoming books in the series. Picking up the threads where Larsson left off; Lagercrantz continues the story of Salander’s past in the fourth book. However, the question that haunts Larsson’s most allegiant readers the most is, whether Lagercrantz be able to live up to the Larsson’s legacy and reputation. Feeling anxious, Lagercrantz himself admitted, “I’m nervous that they will say that I did not live up to (Larsson’s) legacy”. Indubitably, Lagercrantz is a distinguished writer but the bar has already been set too high by Larsson and therefore, the expectations from the fourth book are lofty.
And The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is back
Resurrecting Blomkvist and Salander, The Girl in the Spider’s Web commences with the plunging stars of Blomkvist as a journalist in the aeon of digital media, “…MIKAEL BLOMKVIST’S DAYS ARE OVER…They pointed out that Blomkvist was not on Twitter or Facebook and should rather be seen as a relic of a bygone age in which people could afford to work their way through whichever strange volumes happened to take their fancy.” Sidelined and unable to author any major scoop since Zalachenko affair, Blomkvist is perceived as an emblem of the bygone era. Although washed out, there is a legend surrounding the name of Blomkvist, “When will you learn that you’re Mikael Blomkvist”, “At Sapo people avoid him like the plague. If you find Blomkvist on your doorstep, then your whole year is shot…”, “For sure, people have been saying that he’s past his prime and that his writing isn’t positive or upbeat enough, or whatever. But he’s an old- fashioned investigative reporter of the highest calibre.”
While Blomkvist is nostalgic about the past, Wasp aka Salander is busy hacking one of the world’s most powerful organizations, National Security Agency and in turn, stumbles upon the document which might expose the unholy nexus between the government, corporations and criminals. Even though, the characters of Lisbeth and Blomkvist have already been shaped in the previous books, David Lagercrantz leaves nothing to chance.
Lagercrantz gives a detailed account of Blomkvist and Lisbeth’s past and gently nudges the readers in the right direction and in the process, expend some hundred odd pages without any action.
Set in the backdrop of a network of sophisticated criminals who “steal corporate secrets and confidential business information”, the action of the book spins around Frans Balder, the Swedish scientist “…a leading authority on research in artificial intelligence. There’s hardly anyone who’s as far advanced in the development of quantum computing and neural networks…” and his autistic son, August Balder, a savant who draws with geometrical precision. Intrigued by Balder’s connection with a female hacker and his call in the middle of the night, Mikael arrives at his house only to find him murdered. Immediately enmeshed into the world of conspiracy linking major players around the globe, Mikael and Salander begin their own investigation into the death of Frans Balder and encounter the web of conspiracy that runs far deeper than they had imagined.
In the midst of the mystery surrounding Balder’s death, Mikael unearths a new gang of international criminals, whose leader, Thanos lurks in the shadows. Simultaneously, in congruity with Larsson’s original plot, Lagercrantz builds upon Lisbeth’s dark family history and brings back to life her sworn enemy from the past. Untangling the web of deceit, conspiracy, bloodshed and murder, Blomkvist lands another major story of his career. Not as dark, gory and bloody as the original books in the series, the fourth book minimizes the violence to a great extent. However, in doing so, Salander also falls short of her persona initially chronicled in The Millennium Series; although remaining very much a punk and bad-ass; Lisbeth characterisation in The Girl in the Spider’s Web portrays her a bit mellow, soft and flimsy when contrasted with her earlier role. Instead of action as witnessed in the previous books, the fourth book is more descriptive and contains more narrative which puts action on the back seat.
Does The Girl in the Spider’s Web live up to the hype?
Commissioned by the Larrson’s estate, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is written in a truly commercial fashion. Reluctant to take risks and bold narration; Lagencrantz’s devises a plot which is very similar to the first book. Ending the book with gaping holes and inconsistencies in the plot, the book leaves a very conceivable possibility of a sequel.
Picking up the characters and building upon them, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is more of a prequel to the upcoming books, if any and the book leaves the reader with the feeling that the author is just beginning to warm up and may be, will paint his characters with more bold strokes instead of a hesitant narrative in the upcoming books.
An engrossing book by itself but the book falls short of the promise when juxtaposed with the Larrson’s The Millennium Series.
Title: The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Author: David Lagercrantz
Publisher: Hachette India
Pages: 432 pages
Genre: Crime/ Thriller/ Mystery
About the Author
Lagercrantz studied philosophy and religion at university and subsequently graduated from the Gothenburg journalism school. His first journalist job was at the in-house magazine of car maker, Volvo. He later moved to the daily tabloid newspaper, Expressen and worked until 1993 as a crime reporter, covering some of the major criminal cases of the late 80’s and early 90’s in Sweden, notably the Åmsele murders. His first book was released in 1997, a biography of the Swedish adventurer and mountaineer Göran Kropp (1966 – 2002) (Courtesy: Goodreads)
To quote David Lagercrantz
“Ha, no, that it’s always the wrong people who have the guilty conscience. Those who are really responsible for suffering in the world couldn’t care less. It’s the ones fighting for good who are consumed by remorse.”
“we live in a twisted world where everything, both big and small, is subject to surveillance, and where anything worth money will always be exploited.”
“Those who spy on the people end up themselves being spied on by the people. There’s a fundamental democratic logic to it.>”
“She saw more melody in a differential equation than in a piece by Beethoven.”
“Talent – it doesn’t just achieve results, it attracts other gifted people and helps create an environment that people want to be in.”