The series made a fortune and, as no good deed goes unpunished, it has become a franchise.
Author: James Zimmerhoff
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson planned ten installments in his Millennium series before his untimely death. The three novels he did write, beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, had energy, spectacular violence, and superb plotting. Larsson's weird, sometimes clunky prose style, forgotten because there was real chemistry, even empathy, between his two stars, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. The series made a fortune and, as no good deed goes unpunished, it has become a franchise. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is the second installment wrote by the Swedish biographer and novelist David Lagercrantz and translated by George Goulding. The Girl in the Spider's Web (2015) sold very well, and this new publication appeared with a full blockbuster treatment. Dysfunctional heroines are familiar in thrillers, as are also layers of gendered trauma, but Larsson's Salander was a fabulous, surprising character, who is a feminist superhero, an Amazonian queen, a pretty girl who fought back. Obsessive and antisocial, forged in the environment of violence she experienced as a child. She took the kind of revenge on rapists and pedophiles that most only fantasize about, taking on powerful, corrupt men with lawless violence. With Blomkvist, she was the charismatic half of one of the oddest but most useful and compelling crime fiction couples. Blomkvist, the old-school social justice fighter with a penchant for losers and a hatred of social hypocrisy, presented a perfect complement. The Girl Who Took an Eye for an Eye is the vision of the appalling things made to Salander when she was a child, but the story rambles between a bewildering collection of storylines that never come together. The novel starts with Salander in prison for unconvincing reasons. When she does wander onto the page, she gets banged up or does stuff on her computer, but continues ghostly and uninhabited. The writer commits the cardinal thriller sin of telling rather than revealing what she does. There are long, mansplaining sections about genetics and social research that made me pray to Elmore Leonard, the god of economic thriller writing, who famously disclosed that writers should "try to drop out the part that readers tend to jump." Lagercrantz has all the components of the Millennium series at his disposal, but the adrenaline is refraining Lagercrantz has turned Larsson's eccentric and feral feminism into a simple inversion. This time there are two female arch-villains after Salander. One is an aging, ailing Mad Scientist with a doctor's bag of syringes and lethal poisons determined that will reveal nothing of her social eugenics programme. The other is a ludicrously cartoonish gang boss who ends up hospitalized by Salander's quick hands working with a pair of dangerous brothers, Islamists, who have hired her to beat their jailed and silent sister. There are also, identity-switching twins who make the antics of Viola and Sebastian in Twelfth Night seem ordinary and many indications to Salander's evil twin. The reader observes that Salander and Blomkvist have a desire for equity, but because we employ so little time in the close description with the book's hero, it is not valid. There is a lethargy to the developing, and much of the balance relies on orchestrated interruptions and pauses, which irritate. Lagercrantz has all the components of the Millennium series at his disposal, but the adrenaline is not there.