Is there any crime fiction lover out there who has not heard of  Lisbeth Salander, ‘the girl with the dragon taboo,, sensational lesbian hero of Swedish author Stieg Larssons’ Millenium Trilogy? The series, especially its first volume, was an international sensation, selling over 73 million copies worldwide. The latest country to publish the books is Kazakhstan.

The author of these iconic crime books, died unexpectedly even before the works were first published. After his untimely death, Swedish journalist David Lagercrantz took up the mantle and churned out, in order, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, and finally, The Girl Who Lived Twice. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed the original volumes in the trilogy, I resisted reading any of Mr. Lagercrantz’s attempts to continue the series because I didn’t wan’t to seem disappointed and because, perhaps unjustly on my part, I judged it to be a money making scheme, piggy-backing on the success of Stieg Larson’s original creation.

Why this book, then,and why now. The answer is simple. Mr.Lagercrantz has promised this will be the last volume in the series, and certainly the last Lisbeth Salander book he will ever write.

This is only a capsule review on my part, or a series of observations recording my reaction to the book. For those readers who would appreciate a standard literary review of the book, here is an excellent review at the distinguished Literary magazine, NB (new books mag).

Firstly, I was held captive by the narrative from first to last because of it’s brilliant plot construction, involving at least four layers or subplots, all intricately intertwined. The complexity and plausibility of these different strands is what you would expect from a series with such a high pedigree. At the center of these intertwining plot lines, the author has placed another brilliant plot construction, the character of the first murder victim, a Sherpa involved in Mr. Everest expeditions. All of the multiple plot lines are in some way connected to this exotic central character, who is given his postmortem existence through flashbacks. What of the traditional central characters of these books, the edgy, damaged Lisbeth Salander and the journalist Michael Bloomkvist? Oh they are there all right, moving the plot along, but a bit empty in comparison to their incarnations in Stieg Larson’s original books. Is this a flaw in the novel? Well yes, I would suppose, because when we come to the denouement, where there is terrible suffering and violence, we are expected to care for these two traditional center pieces of the book. I;m afraid that didn’t happen with this reader. I was unmoved. Not disinterested, I still wanted to see how things turned out. But all of my sympathies had been pulled from me and directed to the character of the Sherpa, and for him alone did I want to see some justice down.

It took me 75% of the way into the book to finally figure out what was really going on, but it was a dazzling feat of narrative control that finally brought all the plot lines together. More importantly, I felt confident throughout the narrative that the author was indeed going to pull this off, all of these disparate strands were going to come together, and come together they did with a lot bang in my head. The remaining 25% of the book, with its reversals and red herrings and complications was technically quite clever, but left me unmoved.

So I would have to say that as a reader and an aspiring crime writer myself, I learned not much about characterization from this book. But I was certainly given a master class in plot construction.

Were all the strands equally plausible? I couldn’t say without giving the novel a second read. I was too busy =- and too interested – following all the strands to see where they would lead to worry about plausibility. The fact that nothing stood out as wildly implausible says something.  And it was the Sherpa’s connection to all these plot lines – not the actions of Sanders or Blomkqvist – that kept my attention.

Final verdict: three and a half stars. Not a waste of my time and fairly interesting, but it left me feeling somewhat empty at the end.

Farewell Millennium Trilogy or Sexilogy.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girl Who Lived Twice

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