The Girl in the Spider’s Web

UnknownThe Girl in the Spider’s Web
by David Lagercrantz
2015 / 416 pages
read by Simon Vance – 13h 22m
rating A   / techno-thriller

Stieg Larsson was no literary giant,  but with Lisbeth Salender in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo he created one of the most fascinating female characters in contemporary literature and his readers’  delight lasted for 3 carefully sequenced novels known as The Millennium Trilogy.   The first was a great detective story (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) – the next was  more along the lines of a straight chase-type thriller (The Girl Who Played With Fire) and the third was a legal thriller (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).    They all involved to one degree or another the same case – that of Lisbeth Salendar – and the case had closure with the final novel.

But Larsson died suddenly  in 2004, just prior to the publication of the first novel and due to estate issues (which I will not go into but you can read about HERE) the subsequent novel was not published until this month – 8 years after the last one.

I wasn’t sure how I’d take to someone else writing the books I dearly loved,  but it’s been done before – why not with Larsson?

Let me assure you – Lagercrantz has done a perfectly credible  job of recreating Lisbeth in  a new story and if you’re listening to it,  Simon Vance is the same voice.  And the techie / math nature of the story is accessible to the average reader,  friendly you might say.  But there are some ways in which this is not quite up to the level of Larsson’s books.

For one thing there are so many scene breaks it feels a bit choppy and for another there are too many named cameo characters who run in and out with pieces of information. Finally,  Blomqvist is less sexy James Bond of the media and Lisbeth is more personally  insightful than in prior novels – especially for a character with Asperger’s.

Character list at Waterstones (London) –  I understand there is a character list in the book as well as a map of Stockholm –  I can see those as being very helpful.  I started making lists until I found the Waterstones guide.

This time the computer expert and  leading authority on Artificial Intelligence,  Frans Balder,  has suddenly left his job in the private sector,  snatched his 8-year old son, August Balder,  from the child’s mother,  ex-actress Hannah Balder, and gone into hiding.   August not only has a very difficult type of autism,  but Hannah and her current husband seem to have been abusing the boy. Information about Balder and/or what he’s working on is highly sought by a variety of people and companies in both the US and Russia.  Professional hacking is serious biz in the world of the NSA et al,  so  Balder’s paranoia is justified. Unfortunately,  August witnesses the killing of his father and becomes valuable himself.

I suppose this being more of a techno-thriller than a “mystery,” chase or a legal thriller it’s new territory for Salender.  I have a special place in my heart for  techno-crime so that’s a plus,  but still,  the magic isn’t there.

*****************
Not so hot in the Washington Post: 
And the Sydney Herald has a good piece.

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