Lisbeth Salander returns in The Girl in the Spider's Web

Posted on 31st March 2015 by Rob Chilver
She's back! Today it was announced that Lisbeth Salander will return this August in The Girl in the Spider's Web. Bookseller Rob Chilver looks back on the Stieg Larsson novels and looks forward to David Lagercrantz's take on the character.

Very quickly, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo became The Girl Who Kept Me Awake At Night. Eighty pages into Stieg Larsson's first book and I was hooked on every twist and turn of this intelligent, thought-provoking and adult thriller. With an intriguing main character and one of the best locked-room/island mysteries in modern thrillers, it ensured that I stayed up late into the night promising myself that I would only read 'just one more chapter...'

In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Harriet Vanger disappears from a gathering on an island owned by her powerful family. Her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a fellow Vanger. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. Together they link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders and unravel a dark and appalling family history.

What seemingly starts as a detective story soon becomes much more. Interspersed with scenes of shocking violence, Larsson laces the fiction with genuine facts and figures relating to violent crimes against women in Sweden; explaining how the fictional Salander, whose own civil rights are taken away, is based on real events. At once Larsson inverts the image that the rest of the world once had about Sweden, of Ikea and Abba, and presents a much darker version, a movement begun in 1968 by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo with the Martin Beck series.

The intrigue and interest continued in the two sequels as Salander and Blomqvist returned in The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. In these two inter-connected books Larsson examines how the State cares for the mentally ill or those that are being abused as well as crusading against the media as Lisbeth is exploited and defamed while she remains in hiding accused of murder. With the help of Blomqvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.

Lisbeth Salander quickly became one of the more interesting heroines of late, with what she lacks in people skills she more than makes up for with her fierce intellect. Operating on the edges of society, Lisbeth prefers to remain on the fringes where she feels more comfortable and accepted.  While she may seem to be single-minded, and at times vicious in her actions, Salander is also incorruptible with her strong moral code. 

After the death of Stieg Larsson, who sadly never got to see the success that his writing brought, Lisbeth now joins the ranks of characters that have lived on after their creators passed on. She joins names such Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes as characters that have not only crossed into new mediums, from a number of film series to graphic novel adaptations, but also starred in continuation novels.

Which brings us to now. Long rumoured, today it was announced that The Girl in the Spider's Web joins the previous three titles in Millennium series. Written by Swedish novelist and journalist David Lagercrantz, Spider's Web was reportedly written in intense secrecy as Lagercrantz wrote on a computer with no internet connection, delivering the finished manuscript to his publishers by hand. Other than the title and cover little else is known about this fourth instalment in the Millennium series but I’m looking forward to revisiting the worlds of Salander and Blomqvist and what dark underbelly of society that they will expose.

She is most definitely back.


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