The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
I loved the Millennium trilogy. And then Stieg Larsson died and things became a novel unto themselves. His family owned the rights to his books, because he never married his long time companion, Eva Gabrielsson. He didn’t marry her to protect her from gangs of white supremacist bikers and criminals that he wrote about. And thus, the rights to his characters went to his family. However, Gabrielsson held on to a laptop that supposedly contained extensive notes for a book 4 and book 5, and implications that there would be ten books in the series. Had Larsson not died. This was ten years ago, and the fight got ugly. The family wanted money. The publishers wanted money. But Gabrielsson wanted control. She and Larsson had been together for 32 years. And so the publishers made an end run around her and got David Lagercrantz to write the fourth book. Which is subtitled, “A Lisbeth Salander Novel” and not a “Millennium Series” novel. It’s branding pure and simple, and it’s not the first time it’s happened.
The book itself deals with a scheme involving the NSA, a Swedish computer genius, and his autistic savant son. There’s a merciless professional killer after everyone. Millennium is in financial straits and is being hassled by an advisory board who wants to make it more hip to young readers. There’s a hacker cabal named after the enemies of Wasp from the Marvel comics (Lisbeth’s online nom de guerre) run by Lisbeth’s estranged sister, Camilla. It’s like a big-time tentpole action movie.
And it’s not very Millennium. It’s nothing like the originals. It’s just an empty cash cow version of it. Imagine if they found a new Jane Austen novel. And they said, we’re going to give it to the best selling British author currently writing. And so they gave it to JK Rowling. Who is one of my favorites. But it’s just, it wouldn’t be the same, would it? It would always be a poor copy.
Lagercrantz ghost writes autobiographies. He did a famous one for a soccer player. I don’t care to google to find out if he actually did fiction, but I don’t think he has. And it shows. His dialogue is clunky as fuck, his characterizations are just broad. I’d give him credit for trying to parallel the shit he was going to take for writing this with the new owners of Millennium if I thought he was that clever. But he isn’t. And those guys end up being arrogant sell-out autocrats who gets one-upped in the end.
If they write a fifth book, will I read it? Probably. I’m an asshole that way. And I’ll complain about it then. But I’m a sucker when it comes to that. It’s ironic that I happened to start reading the Discworld books again, as Rhi Pratchett announced that out of respect for her father, she’s decided there will be no more Discworld books after The Shepherd’s Crown. I’m six books from the end then. And it sucks. But I respect her. Because maybe it’s better that way to preserve a legacy.