Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).

It’s been a few years since I’ve read the Millennium series (and watched the Swedish film versions), but having enjoyed them, I was keen to see how a new writer would tackle the series. It’s big shoes to fill, but David Lagercrantz stepped into those shoes with style and clever storytelling. Here’s the blurb:

The girl with the dragon tattoo is back: Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist return in a continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. She is the girl with the dragon tattoo. Lisbeth Salander. An uncompromising misfit whose burning sense of injustice and talent for investigation will never respect boundaries of state or status. He is a campaigning journalist. Mikael Blomkvist. A lone wolf whose integrity and championing of the truth bring him time and again to the brink of unemployment – and prosecution.The call comes in late at night: a superhacker has gained access to critical, top secret U.S. intelligence.Blomkvist knows only one person who could crack the best security systems in the world. This case has all the hallmarks of Salander. She is accused of acting without reason, taking risks just because she can, but though they have lost touch, Blomkvist knows Lisbeth better than that.There must be something deeper at the heart of this – maybe even the scoop that Millennium magazine so desperately needs for its survival.A tangled web of truth that someone is prepared to kill to protect …

It did take a while to get into this book: a storyline involving the intricacies of artificial intelligence isn’t easy for a non-computer geek like me to absorb. However, it became easier to read once the action got under way, especially when Lisbeth Salander joined the story. A note here – I did find The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo difficult to get into initially, and I’ve had many readers tell me they’ve struggled with the same issue. Lagercrantz continues the series admirably. As a writer, he is more polished, which is reflected in the final product.

The key difference, aside from the technically better writing style, is the absence of the graphic violence of the earlier books. Sure, Salander breaks people’s fingers and comes out shooting at one point, but the sexual violence and abuse that formed Salander’s backstory and character development is absent. Readers who skip the first three books will miss crucial understanding about why Salander is the way she is, as well as the relationship between her and Blomkvist – my suggestion is not to skip those books if you’re new to this series. This book brings out another side to Salander – she shows moments of tenderness that’s close to mother-style nurturing and protectiveness when she takes care of a young boy with autism who turns out to be a savant. It’s a welcome glimpse at the woman who uses whatever means possible to right wrongs.

Overall, I enjoyed this well-paced, cleverly structured thriller and I’m keen to see how Lagercrantz continues the series, if that is indeed the plan. It’s certainly left open at the end for that to happen.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $32.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.




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