This is the fifth book in the “Millennium Series” that was started by Stieg Larsson and continued by David Lagercrantz after Larsson’s 2004 untimely death.
We continue with the same characters as in previous books including Mikael Blomkvist, the crusading journalist obsessed with social justice, and Lisbeth Salander, “the girl with the dragon tattoo.” In this book, the author begins with a very helpful section providing short descriptions of the important continuing characters and groups featured in earlier books. I love authors who respect short memory spans of readers!
Lisbeth has been the undoubted star of the series, but doesn’t play as large a role in this book. Nor does Blomkvist for that matter. The focus is more on the criminals being investigated, who however, have interactions with both Mikael and Lisbeth, both of whom get involved because of their devotion to right wrongs. Moreover, as the plot unfolds, it turns out that the crimes involved are very much related to Lisbeth’s childhood.
Like the previous books, the beginning of this one is very complex; the author takes on some very timely topics. One is that of Russian disinformation campaigns – the “modern form of warfare” in which lies are used “as a way of creating chaos and confusion.” A second topic is Islamic radicalization, and the deleterious repercussions it has, especially with respect to women. Third, the author brings into focus the recrudescence of racism and the ideological devotees attracted to racial policy and biology.
We find out how all of these plot strands are connected as the action unfolds and the tension and danger escalates.
Discussion: Lagercrantz raises plenty of thought-provoking political and philosophical issues. I enjoyed it immensely, especially as it neared the exciting conclusion. Jim would have preferred to see more emphasis on Salander and Blomkvist. But he agrees the heart-pounding denouement was exceptional.
Evaluation: This is an intelligent series of thrillers, with the latest installment by no means a disappointment.
Published in the U.S. by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, 2017