The sixth book of Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium series – The Girl Who Lived Twice – has just been released. Since the release of the fourth in 2015 the novels are written by David Lagercrantz as the original novelist dies in 2004. Lagercrantz has some big shoes to fill, the original novel that started it all – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – has become the epitome of the modern day ‘locked-room’-mystery. The novels also feature two very contrasting characters, journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander. That with the multitude of seemingly divergent storylines make this a complicated franchises with opiniated fans. So how has the author fared with his new book – The Girl Who Lived Twice?
Weaving an interesting story
I love how author David Lagercrantz has managed to weave together two separate stories. The first is the vendetta between Lisbeth and her sister Camilla. The second is the whodunnit, the murder of the Nepalese beggar who turns out was an important Sherpa on Mount Everest. As Mikael investigates the murder he uncovers what truly happened on the expedition that climbed the mountain in 2008. During the descent there were a number of fatalities including a Swedish celebrity. Her death ends up being far more current than anyone could have thought.
Besides small excursions to Copenhagen and Moscow the story is set in Stockholm. In this novel we meet a Mikael who is having better times even it he is overworked. During the last bunch of novels he suffered because the magazine he runs with Erika Berger was only doing so-so. Instead Mikael does his best to try and stay relevant in the modern world were blogging and podcasting dominate.
Themes in The Girl Who Lived Twice
The Girl Who Lived Twice also deals with various themes that may escape a casual reader. One of those is being wrong-footed by the internet – and not despite of it. Let me explain. Mikael hears the deceased beggar muttered a name before dying. Yet, the name is not fully understood. A search online finds that the initial suspect had a rivalry with a man whose name was similar sounding and who had died under suspicious circumstances. This leads Mikael down a false trail of his own doing. If you need to find something online, chances are you will always find something similar.
By extension a great deal of who we are, or are represented to be is through our online persona. One of the characters of the story, the Swedish Minister of Defense, is being targeted by the Russian GRU. Through a troll-factory facts about his past are distorted and amplified. In the end no-one really knows the factual truth. As such Lagercrantz has managed to create a very current story that reveals one or two things about his own career.
Not all sunshine
That is not to say that this novel is not without problems. Lagercrantz sets his characters off into all the neighborhoods of Stockholm, and that can be confusing. I found it necessary to consult Google Maps to get a mental image of what I was reading. At the same time the story can meander around too much – especially at the beginning. We read about Mikael reading, sleeping, walking and eating. Some of this exposition could have been omitted even if does ground the protagonist in normal life.
Not enough Lisbeth
Sadly Lisbeth is also under represented in the novel. Her vendetta with her sister is the B-plot and she makes only minor appearances. When she does she acts much like we already know her. She assaults a man with a steam iron, after he abuses his wife and she keeps track of Mikael by hacking his computer. It is clear the author favors Mikael, no doubt because he can easily relate to him. That said, when Lisbeth is on the scene things are fiery. Her long-held war with her sister finally comes to a head and we learn a great deal more of Lisbeth’s relationship with Camilla and their father – Zalachencko.
I enjoyed The Girl Who Lived Twice enormously. In style and content it harkens back to the first novel by David Lagercrantz – The Girl In The Spider’s Web. The Girl Who Lived Twice can be purchased of $ 18.29 from Amazon.