The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reread of this Nov 2020. I read this as soon as it came out in paperback because I enjoyed the Millenium series and wanted to see if this new author had the original author’s chops.
There was reason to be skeptical. Steig Larssen was a card-carrying feminist who could make his point about violence against women without dropping anvils and write an unforgettable, complex female lead while still having a non-misogynist-pig male lead who still had women throwing themselves at him and his middle-aged vaguely out-of-shape (but apparently good looking?) self in the most eye-rolling fashion. All while describing what every character ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in excruciatingly irrelevant detail.
So, in other words, Mr. Lagercrantz was on notice when we cracked open his new Millenium book because we knew Larssen’s style. And he pulled it off. Funny thing is, re-reading this book five years later, I realized I remembered none of its details. That was possibly because a the the time of my first reading of Spider’s Web it had been so long between books three (Larssen) and four (Lagercrantz) that I was a bit lost as far as the on-going plot lines and maybe *couldn’t* spy a difference in style if it bit me in the nose (except Camilla’s reappearance–I did remember that part). Doing a full re-read of the two trilogies now, I can, and this book works. I think Lagercrantz likes more large-scale espionage plotlines than Larssen’s fucked-up families themes, but in the former’s defense, most of the drama of the Vanger and Salander disfunction had been played out.
Most of it. Lagercrantz is more willing to make female villains than Larssen. Women who have reacted to male violence against women by becoming the men who victimize than by becoming victims (Agnita Salander) or superheroes defending women (ne Lisbeth and Blomkvist’s sister the attorney). But he still uses the fight against violence against/subjugation of women as a central theme, understands the characters and how they will react, and creates a natural evolution of the story line bequeathed from Larssen.
So Four Stars on his work as I gave Larssen, which is my highest praise unless a book is an absolute life-changing masterpiece, which I reserve the five star rating for.