Guest Post: David Lagercrantz’s Girl in the Spider’s Web “was a soy milk latte to my preferred triple espresso”

We encourage readers of this blog to send us their reviews, thoughts, and comments on the recently published The Girl in the Spider’s Web novel by David Lagercrantz—the long awaited “fourth book” following on the great success of Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy. Spider’s Web is obviously controversial. Larsson died a decade ago and Lagercrantz was authorized by Larsson’s father and brother, who control the Larsson estate, as well as the Swedish publisher, to continue the saga of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist with a novel of his own invention. Below guest blogger Jill Yesko comments on David Lagercrantz’s Girl in the Spider’s Web:

I really wanted to like Spider’s Web. And it wasn’t a bad book, particularly if you weren’t a die hard fan of the trilogy. But I’m really attached to Lisbeth. I found Langercrantz’s version was a soy milk latte to my preferred triple espresso.

I think he can do better. And perhaps reader’s reviews will encourage him to do so in the next novel.

Though Stieg Larsson, creator of the Millennium Trilogy, has been gone nearly a decade, when I heard a new novel–one written by fellow Swede–was in the works, I got a little excited.

And who could blame me? Larsson created one of the most compelling, hard ass, take no prisoners, computer hacking genius heroines of early 21st century fiction.

When Larsson died the world thought we’d lost Lisbeth as well. Now we have The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the long-anticipated follow up to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Billed as “A Lisbeth Salander Novel,” Spider’s Web is to the Millennium Trilogy what hamburger is to Kobe Beef. Both are qualify as red meat, but only one is something you want to sink your teeth into.

I really wanted to like Spider’s Web. So much so that I drove across town to the library to take out the large type edition (yeah, I didn’t want the book so badly that I was willing to buy it. Still).

The problem is that The Girl in the Spider’s Web is boring. Not so boring that I wanted to put it down halfway. But enough that I don’t remember much of the plot and don’t care to visit Wikipedia to refresh my memory.

The issue is that author David Lagercranz has tried too hard to please readers hungry for what Larsson envisioned as a ten book series. Instead of picking and choosing characters to re-introduce to readers after a 10 year hiatus, he crams them all in like a Thanksgiving dinner groaning board. Too many characters with too little to do in one novel. Big mistake.

Besides, we really don’t care about lesser players like Detective Sonja Modig and heiress Harriet Vanger. Lagercranz doesn’t give his second stringers much to do other than to name check them to make readers feel like they are still in play.

The only characters readers really care about are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. And the only thing we want to know is when they are going to have sex and what it’s like.

Instead we get a watered down plot, and worse, a watered down Lisbeth Salander. Yeah, there’s an angsty Blomkvist who worries that he’s obsolete (welcome to middle age buddy).

What happened to the Lisbeth who hog tied then tattooed “I am a rapist and a sadistic pig” on her attackers torso then shoved a dildo up his ass?

Maybe Lagercranz was under pressure to present a more grown up Lisbeth or one that he thought would appeal to a more broad audience. Whatever he’s done, it’s a tremendous disservice to the legions of Lisbeth fans who want…no…demand their heroine to take control of the novel. At the very least he could have had her ride her motorcycle or punch someone other than her boxing partner.

Aside from some international computer hacking hijinx involving the NSA and the Swedish Police, there isn’t a lot going on in Spider’s Web. You get a little sucked in then the book fizzles out. There is a cliffhinger ending but it’s so timid that I wouldn’t even issue a spoiler alert.

I’ll give David Lagercrantz one more chance to breathe life back into Lisbeth Salander. Let’s hope he won’t fuck it up the second time.


Author Cover PhotoJill Yesko is the author of Murder in the Dog Park and Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery. She is directing and producing the documentary Tainted Blood: The Untold Story of the 1984 Olympic Blood Doping Scandal.

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