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The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Swedish journalist, David Lagercrantz, has taken over the Lisbeth Salander series that appeared to be ended with the passing of Stieg Larsson.  I have been fascenated by the series since the very first novel and Lagercrantz is, for the most part, living up to the legend.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web” carries the Salander story forward a couple years after the last Larsson novel.  Lisbeth is back in Sweden after lengthy stays in the Caribbean and other parts of the world and she has become even more famous within the hacker community under the handle “the Wasp.”  The story revolves around a famous computer scientist, Frans Balder, who leaves his Silicon Valley job developing an artificial intelligence program for a supercomputer in order to return to his native Sweden in order to take care of his mentally disabled but savant son, August, and to get his son removed from the home of his former wife and her abusive boyfriend.  Balder is murdered for his scientific discoveries and August is targeted for death because he witnessed the murder and has a gift for drawing and mathematics and might be able to identify the killer even without language skills.

Lisbeth Salander is asked by her journalist friend, Mikael Blomkvist, to look into the murder of Balder and to locate his missing computer files.  In the process she saves the boy and hides him from the perpetrators, a rogue cyber spies led by her estranged sister, Camilla, called the Spiders.  Lisbeth also dodges an arrest and extradition by the NSA for having hacked their computers. The fact that Camilla escapes most likely sets up the next installment in the series.

The writing of the Salander series is not as elegant as it was coming from Larsson and there are sections toward the middle of the book that drag whereas every page of the Larsson novels was a page-turner.  Still, the plot is intricate and interesting, and Lagercrantz does a lot to humanize Salander far beyond anything in the earlier books.  It turns out Salander can actually be a caring person who has the capacity to show compassion for and the patience to take care of a young boy.  She also takes the time to observe the extraordinary gifts of young August and to see to it that they are developed by arranging to fund his education.  I like the direction of this new Salander novel, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” and look forward to reading many more installments of Salander’s story.

Liz Nichols


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