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The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander Novel

Review

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander Novel

I loved every word of THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, even as it occasionally meandered, distracted, confused and misdirected. This latest installment of the Millennium series establishes that David Lagercrantz was/is the perfect choice to continue the work that Stieg Larsson began.

Lagercrantz captures the mood and the characters established by the first trilogy of the series perfectly without attempting to recreate Larsson’s style. In fact, Lagercrantz tinkers with the traditional structure of the novel in a manner similar to that of William Faulkner (though nowhere near to that extreme) while creating a riveting story that goes off in several different directions from a nexus that exists in the past. It is occasionally challenging to follow, but it’s worth hanging on to the mane of the wild stallion that Lagercrantz has created here. It won’t throw you, and it eventually --- and quickly --- gets the reader to the destination.

"I loved every word of THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, even as it occasionally meandered, distracted, confused and misdirected."

THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE begins with the enigmatic and difficult Lisbeth Salander in prison for reasons that are fully explained right away. Salander undertakes to protect and defend a young woman --- who is guilty of the crime for which she is imprisoned but who really shouldn’t be where she is --- and thus makes herself a deadly enemy who comes back to haunt her later. During the course of her imprisonment, Salander is given some information that provides her with clues concerning her mysterious and haunting past. When she is abruptly released, she goes about two tasks: seeking revenge for herself and for the young woman who had been imprisoned with her. Lagercrantz uses this in part to address some social issues, as was the wont of Larsson when he created the series, but for the most part is careful to stay out of his own way when he does so.

The novel’s focus, interestingly enough, is Mikael Blomkvist, the relentless investigative reporter for Millennium Magazine who has been a mainstay of the series. Blomkvist is the steady and sane anchor for the wild kite that is Salander. The two feed each other information throughout the book as Salander discovers the ultimate truth of what happened to her during the course of her childhood, and why, even as she exacts some long-delayed and much worthy justice from at least a couple of the perpetrators. This does not occur in a vacuum, as it is revealed that she and her twin sister --- the two of them mortal enemies --- were pawns in something much larger that affected other siblings as well.

This may or may not play out over the course of future books in the series. It is hard to discern if Lagercrantz’s goals are short- or long-term here, and ultimately it doesn’t really make any difference, given that this installment is engrossing and self-contained on its own terms. Lagercrantz uses the story to demonstrate a more physically vulnerable side to Salander --- she is extremely capable of violence, but is not immune from it, either --- even as he makes her presence felt on every page, particularly those where she is nowhere to be seen. It is an interesting stylistic tool, one that only a highly skilled wordsmith could execute correctly. Count Lagercrantz (and translator George Goulding, who makes sense of this for American readers) a worthy member of that select group.

As we count our blessings in THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, let me note one more and humbly ask for another. The note: a listing of recurring characters at the beginning of the book, indicating who they are with a few sentences describing what they do. I would be at sea without this. The ask: In the next Salander book, please add a short summary of what has gone before. This is a complex series in which much has happened with events dipping and swirling between the past and the present. It would be helpful to both newcomers and fans alike. That’s a quibble, though. Even without it, this tale comes highly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 14, 2017

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander Novel
by David Lagercrantz

  • Publication Date: September 12, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0451494326
  • ISBN-13: 9780451494320