Released: August 2015
Continuing a successful book series after its author has passed away is a huge risk, but one that has undoubtedly paid off in this instance. The Girl in the Spider’s Web, an extension of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, has been one of this year’s most anticipated book releases. The return of enigmatic anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander is finally here, and she’s as determined and dangerous as ever.
Reputable journalist and celebrity Mikael Blomkvist is now falling out of favour due to sneering remarks made about him in the media. His beloved magazine Millennium isn’t as fashionable or ground-breaking as it once was and is going through financial strain. Exhausted and dispirited, Mikael considers admitting defeat and leaving the magazine for good. He changes his mind when he receives a phone call from a stranger named Linus Brandell about a potentially juicy investigation regarding Frans Balder, a leading Artificial Intelligence researcher.
Frans Balder has made some astonishing break-throughs in his field, and his work is targeted by a society of skilled hackers calling themselves the Spiders. Frans contacts Lisbeth to investigate who is stealing innovative technology and profiting from it. Strange rumours about Frans circulate; he becomes secretive, paranoid and unpleasant to work with. He suddenly leaves his job and spends most of his time indoors. His behaviour is a cause for concern and the Swedish security police have good reason to believe he needs to be protected. What nobody knows about Frans is that he’s taking care of his eight-year-old autistic son, August, who happens to be an exceptionally gifted artist. August’s startling drawing ability helps to hunt down the Spiders.
Lisbeth has been busy with research of her own since the events of The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. For personal reasons, she is also interested in the Spider Society, and puts her formidable hacking talents to their greatest test yet. She is persuaded by her fellow members of Hacker Republic to break into the NSA’s security system and uncover the corruption within the organisation. Since the demise of her father Zalachenko, Lisbeth has been discovering what has become of his vast criminal enterprise without its leader. There is a new gang, and the leader is believed to be someone under the alias of Thanos, a deadly but revered woman who has connections within the NSA. Lisbeth is known for her resourcefulness and her ability to squeeze out of tight spots, but this time she might have landed herself in a mess even she can’t get out of.
David Lagercrantz may not be able to please everybody, but his addition to Millennium has merit and he’s been loyal to Larsson’s techniques and preferences. Abruptly alternating between characters’ points of view is enticing and suspenseful, and the plot has a strong curveball. Lisbeth remains complex and captivating, and Lagercrantz has allowed readers to delve into her disturbing past. Spider’s Web also explores the sinister side of government surveillance and the corruption of those in power, reminding us that the internet is a dangerous weapon as well as a useful tool.
At this point, it’s uncertain whether Lagercrantz will write any further sequels. It would be a shame if Lisbeth’s pursuit of powerful and lethal figures ended here.