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Bookends: The Return of the Girl who was a massive bestseller January 17, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Klondike Sun, mystery, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends: The Return of the Girl who was a massive bestseller

By Dan Davidson

spiders-web-copyMay 18, 2016

– 917 words –

 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

By David Lagercrantz

Viking

400 pages

$34.00

 

The adventures of hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist began with the trilogy written by their creator, Stieg Larsson, pulling us through three massive doorstop sized books, each of which crested 800 words and had promise of more to come even though the author had died before the Millennium series, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and continuing with The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, had even been published.

The aftermath was a bit like one of his novels. His partner, Eva Gabrielsson, with whom he had lived and worked for years, was completely shut out of his legacy by his family, even though she claimed to have a partial first draft of a fourth book, which she said she was prepared to finish. She says that ten books were planned.

Eighty million books sold in the original Swedish and in numerous translations certainly meant that the publisher would want to go on, so, like the work of such writers as V.C. Andrews, Robert Ludlum and Robert B. Parker, the ghost of another literary creation marches on.

David Lagercrantz has a somewhat similar background to Larsson, and has written fiction and non-fiction himself. He has a leaner style, as evidenced by the fact that this book is only half the length of Larsson’s work. He has broadened the scope of the action, and updated some of the thriller conventions that have developed in the decade since Larsson’s books last appeared.

There are touches of the Snowdon and Julian Assange (Wikileaks) affairs in this book, as Salander burrows her way into the American National Security Agency and uncovers a black and nasty operation that is connected to the murder of a Swedish computer nerd/genius who had recently been working in the USA.

Frans Balder had detected some kind of fraud involved with the company for which he was working, and has taken some leave time to come home and sort out part of his personal life. This included an autistic son, who had been living with his ex-wife and an abusive Swedish film star. The boy was not doing well and Frans had some sense that he was being ill-treated, so he scooped him up and went into hiding with him.

The boy does not talk at all, but it turns out that he has photographic memory and is an artist-savant with the ability to draw photorealistic images of anything he has seen. This means that the brief look got at the man who killed his father was locked in his brain, if only the authorities could figure out how to open that door.

On the night and Frans was killed he was to have spent time with Blomkvist, whom he had called to talk about his suspicions. Mikael’s magazine has fallen on hard times since the revelations that came out of the last adventure, and he himself has been under social media and journalistic attack by people who seem to be afflicted with what we refer to in Canada as “tall poppy syndrome”.

Millennium is at risk of being bought out and controlled by a chain that seems likely to neuter its mandate and turn it into an entertainment magazine. Blomkvist needs a new story, but would much rather have not been at Balder’s house minutes after the shooting.

He and Salander haven’t been getting along, Though they were once lovers, Blomkvist has a long standing relationship with Erika Berger, his editor in chief, and while Salander has had many relationships and swings both ways, she has been jealous of this and has avoided him. But she monitors his computers and he has this means of reaching out to her,

They both realize the boy’s gift and that he is in danger from the cabal that Balder had suspected and Salander had uncovered. Salander manages to grab the boy and save him from being shot. She goes into hiding with him while she recovers from taking a bullet in the process. Being afflicted with Asberger Syndrome herself, she is well suited to figure out how to work with the boy. She and Blomkvist come at the case from different angles and manage to bring it to a successful conclusion.

Lagercrantz has managed to weave quite a few members of the original cast into this story and has elevated one member, Camilla, Salander’s fraternal twin sister, into a threat that nearly matches that which was posed by their father, Zala, the former Russian spy who was a major player in books two and three. Her fate is a loose thread at the end of this novel, and leaves plenty of room for the two additional books that Lagercrantz is said to be writing.

Was the book a worthy successor to the original work? I’m not sure I can answer that. There was certainly a different feel to the story, but it was an enjoyable tale and I did not feel cheated by the way it played out. The writer seems to have taken a good hard look at Larsson’s themes and worked diligently to use them in this story. It doesn’t’ have quite the same spark, and I could have used more time with the two central characters, but I did enjoy the book.

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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