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  Stieg Larsson    David Lagercrantz

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB      rrp: £19.99  Ebook £9.99

DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T LIKE SPOILERS

Much has already been written about Stieg Larsson the Swedish journalist and author of the excellent crime trilogy, the Millenium Series, featuring a Swedish journalist, Mikael Blonkvist, and the greatest computer hacker as yet ever recorded on paper, Lisbeth Salander.The three books in the series have had their titles changed during translation from Swedish to English because the literal translation does not truly cover the stories in the books.

The books are:
1. "Men Who Hate Women"   >  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2. "The Girl Who Played With Fire"  This title wasn't changed
3. "The Air Castle That Was Blown Up"  >  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Larsson left many notes concerning story ideas featuring Salander and Blomqvist but some legal wranglings over who actually has the intellectual copyright on them meant that when David Lagercrantz (apparently famous for his biography of Swedish footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimović) was asked by the Swedish publishing company Norstedts to write a fourth book continuing the Millenium series, he had no link to the information and thus the fourth book is all Lagercrantz, with Larsson overtones.TheSwedish title for this fourth book is "That Which Does Not Kill Us" but hit the bookshelves with it's English version as "The Girl In The Spider's Web".

The Girl in the Spider's Web is more about Blomqvist and the Millenium magazine than it is about the girl everyone wants to read about. It begins with a mysterious telephone call in the very early morning from Frans Balder to Mikael Blomqvist. Balder wants Blomqvist to come and visit him right now. Of course, without putting too many spoilers into this review, Blomqvist sets out on his way and arrives just moments before Balder is killed in front of his autistic son. the killer, someone who has no qualms about killing anyone or anything, sees the boy looking at him then remembers he (August, the boy) is disabled, cannot talk and is only able to rock back and forth, and so he lets August live.

The story then goes into Bruce Willis "Mercury Rising"/"Code Mercury"mode. August holds the key to a plot that involves bad guys working in the US Government, or at least certain sections of it; the buyout and style-changing of Millenium (magazine) and a beautiful woman who can charm men right into the palms of her hands and despatch of them even quicker when they have been used and served her purpose. She is Camella, Lisbeth's twin sister. She was the one who, as they grew up, got the boys, the charm, the money, while Lisbeth was moody and had no friends as such. She is also the sister who never forgave Lisbeth for killing their father and half-brother. She is a psychopath of the highest order as Millenium find out in the hardest way possible.

Some of the story is complex and often complicated, especially trying to remember who each character is, where they are from and why they are involved, and some of the story is so contrived it reaches the point of nausea. Also, and really very unfortunately for fans of the Larsson trilogy and the films that became of them - Daniel Craig did a formidable job as Blomqvist and Rooney Mara was good as Salander, but for me the Swedish version - where Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace made the lead characters rise from Larsson's pages - was way better paced and involved the actual story from the book more, even with subtitles or dubbing.

Lisbeth only flitters in and out of this story, being used mainly when money, computer hacking or  when a mathematical problem needs solving and only Lisbeth, with August the savant's help, can resolve the complex puzzle. Blomqvist seems aged and not the tough, hard-hitting journalist Larsson made him. Despite the 2D characters, I actually followed and enjoyed the story but wasn't surprised to get to the final pages and discover it was open-ended, in fact there seemed to be a slow downwards slope throughout the comfortable twists and wide turns that is leading the reader towards the obvious and easy conclusion. Lagercrantz hasn't really got the characters but he obviously wants to write book 5 and perhaps more, continuing the series. However, in my opinion, unless he makes more use of Salander then the stories are going to fall flat pretty quickly.

The Millenium magazine is now safe in the hands of Blomqvist and Berger, thanks to Salander's money so apart from another blockbuster political news story there isn't a lot of extra mileage there. There needs to be some kind of finale between Camilla and Lisbeth which could be very interesting especially as not all of Camilla's "Spider's Web" group were captured or killed, so she still has the beginnings of a new and better operation, plus she is apparently almost as rich as Lisbeth, so she has the means.

I suppose the proof of this pudding is that although I didn't get the feel of the characters from Lagerscrantz as I did from Larsson I would still read book five when (if) he writes it.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015