The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz
MacLehose Press (2015), Paperback, 448 pages
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I was so glad to see my favourite anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander back I probably would have read the book even if told it consisted of the text of collected laundry labels. On the other, Lisbeth aside (and she is simply not given enough print-time, one of my biggest gripes), it was not a pleasant reading experience. The first 50 and the last 100 pages were quite good, fast-moving and exciting, but in between was a turgid mass of exposition with a lot of unlikeable and uninteresting characters milling around as if lost.The story centres on a IT whiz who may have come up with a breakthrough in Artificial Intelligence, who is gunned down by an assassin connected with a syndicate of malevolent hackers, and the story comes to focus on the fight to protect his autistic son, who may hold the key to the mystery, and the involvement of Lisbeth’s evil twin sister. I will temper my criticism somewhat on the grounds that this is a translation, and I don’t know how much of the stodgy centre was due to the author or to the translator. The book just cried out for a character to grab the story and run with it somewhere, anywhere, and this is where the lack of Lisbeth-time was really felt, We know from past experience how she can grab a story by the throat, but she was never really given the chance until the last part of the book.That said, any Lisbeth is good Lisbeth, and the author has at least captured her character impeccably. If anything, she is even more kick-ass in this book than in the Larsson books, adding James Bond skills to her already formidable array of talents. She is the book’s saving grace, and for that reason alone, I will come back to read any further additions to this saga.