Book Review: A new tale of an indestructible anti-heronine

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have become iconic names in the Nordic noir genre along with the likes of Harry Hole and Kurt Wallander. The Salander-Blomkvist pair has become so popular that even the untimely demise of author Stieg Larsson hasn’t put a stop to the Millennium series. The latest and third instalment from Swedish author David Lagercrantz is The Girl Who Lived Twice.

This book, the sixth in the saga, is expected to be the last in the series, with Lagercrantz claiming in an interview, “For me, it’s over.” A series that began with a bang deserves to go out with a similarly huge impact as well. So does it?

To answer this question, let us look at the story and how it is dealt with. The plot has two strands, while one is of Salander taking on her nemesis – her evil twin sister Camilla (As Lisbeth says, “I shall be the hunter and not the hunted.”). The other involves Blomkvist investigating the death of a homeless man on the streets of Stockholm.

As the plot unravels, you travel from Mount Everest to the Russian underworld and even modern-day troll farms. But in trying to keep Larsson’s legacy, Lagercrantz adds too many sub-plots. From Sherpas to a defence minister to a Russian troll farm to a lesbian lover to superhuman DNA, the author takes a long-winded and sometimes unnecessarily route to the climax. He even throws in a scene where Salander irons the shirt of an abusive man with him in it, as if to satisfy the fans of the anti-heroine.

It is difficult novel to read since it carries with it the burden of Larsson’s legacy and imposes on Lagercrantz the problematic task of ensuring that the Salander-Blomkvist duo remain true to their original selves while growing in a trajectory that’s believable. This may be the third work of Lagercrantz in the series, but he is dealing with the same baggage. Compounding the problem is the fact that both the protagonists indulge in acts here that don’t ring true to their establish personalities.

The book is primarily a Blomkvist vehicle this time around and that hurts it also. For those who haven’t read the previous Millennium series, this one won’t disappoint that much. But taken within the Millennium universe, this one will leave the fans feeling a bit cheated and upset.

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