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The Girl in the Spider's Web: A Lisbeth Salander novel    by David Lagercrantz order for
Girl in the Spider's Web
by David Lagercrantz
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2015 (2015)

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lisbeth Salander lives on! As does crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Author David Lagercrantz has continued Stieg Larsson's Millennium series with The Girl in the Spider's Web and he's done a fine job. The characters feel like the originals and they have to deal with a messy, complex situation involving players all over the world, as well as a nemesis for Lisbeth who is rather close to home.

The author takes his readers into the US National Security Agency, whose signals surveillance monitors 'more than twenty billion conversations and messages every twenty-four hours.' Its most senior security chief, Edwin Needham, is rabid after the impossible happens and a hacker breaks in to their tightly closed intranet. Can you guess who that superhacker is? Course you can.

At the center of the plot is Frans Balder, a genius and leading authority in artificial intelligence research. As the novel opens, he leaves his Silicon Valley job and flies home to Sweden, where he extracts his autistic son August from the dubious care of his ex-wife and her abusive partner. He hopes to give the boy a stable and safer home. He soon discovers that his son is a savant, with incredible drawing and mathematical skills.

Mikael Blomkvist is in trouble. He's losing control of the Millennium magazine, which is in a financial crisis, and fellow journalists have been reporting that his days are over. Then Linus Brandell (one of Balder's assistants) contacts him, offering a big story about the theft of software that might change the world. Mikael is hooked once he learns that Lisbeth was involved in identifying the attack.

Balder sets up a meeting with Mikael, which is when the violence erupts. Soon Lisbeth is on the run, trying to protect small August, with authorities (including the Swedish Security Police) and a ruthless criminal organization on her trail. Led by the charismatic Thanos, the villains 'steal corporate secrets and confidential business information.' Can Mikael help keep them both alive?

Like its predecessors, The Girl in the Spider's Web is a real page turner. It starts slowly, as Lagercrantz lays the groundwork, but then takes off. And series fans will be glad to learn more of Lisbeth's tough back story. Highly recommended!

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