There are problems which publication industry goes through when an author dies. Particularly if his books had sold more than 80 million copies. And also when the characters had become household names. When I heard that a David Lagercrantz was writing Millenium #4, I was skeptical. I felt it would be like Forbrydelsen, the danish crime series, which I followed religiously. Fortunately, The director knew the limits of the character and finished with 3 seasons. Sarah Lund had so many things common with Libeth Salander. She had her own mess to sort out, but then she can’t keep away when her duty calls. But for the creators, both Sarah Lund and Lisbeth Salander should be a great headache. Their heroines had already broken the stereotypes. Now the audience will expect their heroines to fight mightier villains. When that doesn’t happen, we will trash the book or serial and question the ability of writers.
David Lagercrantz should have been aware of this and obviously under so much stress to deliver the next Lisbeth Salander hit. To be fair to him, he had done a great job. But he is no Steig Larson. Don’t get me wrong. The book is an absolute page turner. When the whole of the world has shifted its gear to minute by minute update of the stories that catch their attention in web and social media, it gets tough for our Mikael Blomkvist. There is a brief episode of a social media mud slinging on Mikael Blomkvist with hashtags such #inblomkvistdays.
At the start of the novel we again find Millenium in financial struggle. We again find Blomkvist in a murder scene. These are the templates that are followed in American Novels. I don’t think it sits well in Nordic Fictions. But then, the writer was put in a box and was asked to write. Hence, these criticisms are not for him to take. However, this time the government, Mikael Blomkvist and the Lisbeth are fighting people who plan attacks through computers. The novel talks in detail about corporate espionage and how internet has shrunk the world for both the good and the bad.
The novels also deal with Savant Syndrome and an autistic boy who can draw exceptionally well and also a mathematical genius. There were few mathematical explanations which I found hard to understand. But I eventually took the help of internet to understand it. The more I went into it, the more fascinating the novel became for me. However, it might not be the case for pure Steig Larson fans. There are few sequences which I thought could have been better. By better, I mean like Steig Larson. One of the template components is when Salander confronts the villains. That would be an absolute dynamite and I was looking forward to it. But to my disappointment, it turned out to be a dud. And Lisbeth promises that she would help a driver who had helped in a crucial part of the novel. That was not tied up at the end. It feels good to read when Lisbeth gives, rather than takes.
I will absolutely recommend this for people who love Nordic fiction or thrillers in general. But they will have to accept that Steig Larson is dead. But one thing is for sure. The characters are shown in a new light. New explanations are given for the action in previous books and more importantly not every woman who comes across Blomkvist wants to sleep with him. A welcome change indeed.