My rating: 3 of 5 stars to David Lagercrantz‘s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the fourth book in the “Millenium” thriller series, written by a new author given the original, Steig Larsson, passed away several years ago. While the book carries on with great characters and a similar style, it wasn’t as satisfying as the originals. But who can resist Blomkvist and Lisbeth — you can’t NOT read it!
As readers come to know of this series of books, the plots are incredibly complex, intense and twisty. From a basic point of view, several hackers have started infiltrating the NSA after learning about a conspiracy between different groups to buy and sell secrets about each other’s companies. The government is involved, trying to keep it running and trying to stop it, as well as several public companies involved in building new technology that ultimately will be the destruction of mankind should machines be able to build machines and think as sentient beings
Pushing that all to the side, the plot is about a professor who takes back his autistic son from his ex-wife and her new husband (who is abusing the young boy). When some members of the conspiracy group ultimately realize that the professor is the technologist who has the AI programs they are all after, and he’s potentially going to rat out the truth of what’s been happening to Blomkvist, someone orders a hit and the professor is killed minutes before telling his story. His young son witnesses the execution and the hunt begins. Lisbeth is involved in the hacking group and works through a secret computer program to help Blomkvist save the boy and ends up realizing she’s very close to the person at the head of the conspiracy. As they sort through the puzzle, family ties come back to haunt each of them and the struggle to keep the balance of the war just slightly in their own favor pushes forward.
1. Lisbeth and Blomkvist are as good as ever. They jump off the pages and yearn to be loved and hated at the same time. They annoy you, but you know they are good people.
2. It’s definitely a page-turner that captures your attention about 20% in when you realize how many different players are in the game to capture the technology and to double-cross one another. It stays strong and keeps you guessing throughout the whole story. And then the head of the conspiracy is revealed about 50% through, you have a whole new level of connections that keep your mind working over-time.
The summary of the story is strong, but the details get too technical and too convoluted. I work in technology, so it wasn’t that I didn’t understand what they were talking about… it was that so much of it was theory and advanced mathematical formulas, it got tedious to pay attention to that level of detail. There’s only so much I can swallow when it comes to prime numbers and the Fibonacci sequence and how many multipliers are needed to deviate from the quantum… what??????? stick to the drama and leave the minutia out when you’re trying to keep the sanctity of an author whose first successful novel was a genealogical mystery!
I enjoyed the book. I wanted to keep reading it. I’d like to see another one by this author. But… in order to move it up from a 3 to 4, it needs more substance. Hacking is a great topic. NSA double-crossing it a cool idea. The family ties (no spoilers here) was an amazing story line. But something felt like it was missing in how it truly all came together. I’m hoping it was left open so it can be explored in the next book — not all to different from the original three in the series — but it needs to more tightly weaved.
That said, kudos to Lagercrantz for successfully taking on the series and trying to continue the original creation. He’s done well enough for me to continue reading but still to keep my critical eye.