The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium #5), by David Lagercrantz

Eight stars

Commissioned to continue the Millenium series, David Lagercrantz seeks to carve out his own niche while remaining true to Stieg Larsson’s foundation. Here, the reader remembers some of the issues that faced Lisbeth Salander, now sitting in prison for the computer crimes she committed. While on the inside, Salander shows her highly aggressive side as she protects a vulnerable Muslim prisoner who is accused of a murder, but espouses her innocence. When the prison gang leader learns that Salander will not back down, brutality seems the only option. That said, no one can tell when Salander will blow her lid and the damage that she’ll bring about thereafter, which leaves this leader rushed to the infirmary on at least one occasion. Salander has been doing some research into her past, tied to something called The Registry, an organization she remembers worked alongside her mother years ago. Turning to investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, Salander points him in the direction of an elderly lawyer who may possess a vast number of documents tied to her time with The Registry. When Blomkvist locates the lawyer, it is too late, as someone’s come to kill the man before he can reveal much of anything. When Salander is released from prison, she has numerous groups looking to exact revenge on her, from a devout Islamic community through to those who ran The Registry and cannot allow their secret to come out. Will Salander and Blomkvist learn enough to provide answers and discover just how deep The Registry goes and how many others might be suffering the consequences? Lagercrantz weaves not only a highly educational piece about genetics and human behaviour, but returns to Larsson’s intense style as the story morphs in wonderful twists that provide just enough angst to sustain the series’ trademark style. Series fans can breathe a sigh of relief that everyone is back on track and those who have an interest in the series can pick this one up to whet their appetites.

I will be the first to admit, I was in the minority when it came to people who was displeased with David Lagercrantz taking over the series. I have had bad experiences when authors take the reins from an author who is either deceased or has chosen to fade away. Larsson’s work is on a pedestal for a reason and when Lagercrantz sought to spin it his own way, I could not help but be upset. I was tentative in choosing to continue with the series, but held my breath after seeing so many positive reviews. I am glad that I did, for Lagercrantz has done a wonderful job working through threads in the series (namely Salander and Blomkvist), as well as injecting some interesting tangents in this novel, primarily building on Lisbeth’s twin sister Camilla. I will venture not to speak too much about the scientific or experimental aspects of the story, for fear some will scream ‘SPOILER ALERT’, but can say that I was quite curious to learn all about these studies from the past number of decades. The characters in the story are wonderfully crafted and quite unique, tapping into many aspects of the story. Lagercrantz keeps Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist as central, though many of the periphery characters also enrich the larger story. Salander receives some long-awaited aspects to her backstory, including discussion of her curious tattoo, which is finally addressed at length. Speaking of the narrative, it flows nicely, hampered at times with some translation issues that appear to slow the momentum, but there is an overall high quality to the story and its direction rarely wanes. Lagercrantz has some wonderful ideas that he weaves into the narrative and does not let up until the very end, permitting the reader to feel a strong connection to the overall themes the series has to offer. Readers looking for high quality writing need look no further, as Lagercrantz has compiled strong pieces from the Stieg Larsson playbook to deliver a knockout punch.

Kudos, Mr. Lagercrantz, for this powerful piece of writing. You’ve saved yourself in my eyes and I can relax that the following five novels in the series (if the original ten promised by Larsson remains the plan) shall blossom under your guidance.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: