"THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE," by David Lagercrantz, Knopf, 347 pages (f)
"The Girl Who Takes An Eye for An Eye" will bore you, for the most part.
The newest story in the Millennium series featuring Lisbeth Salander — based on the original book “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson — shows Salander stuck in jail, the result of her actions in "The Girl in the Spider's Web," the previous book in the series. While in prison, she aligns herself with a fellow inmate, but then gets in trouble when she kicks off a fight with the jail’s most notorious criminal, putting the people closest to her in danger.
All the while, the series’ other main character, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, chases down a mysterious lead about twins who are connected to Salander, herself a twin, as readers learned in "The Girl in the Spider's Web."
"Eye for an Eye" will excite fans who want to see these characters in action. It’s been close to three years since the last book, when author David Lagercrantz took over the series after the last publication of series creator Stieg Larsson's third manuscript, all published posthumously. (Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004.) But the problem is this new book isn’t compelling and meanders all over the place. One moment readers will be catching up with Blomkvist, but then they’re back with Salander, and then, randomly, readers will find themselves following the mysterious twins and their back story set a year and a half in the past.
Fans of the series certainly won’t be happy with the lack of time the book spends with Blomkvist and Salander, as they both take backseat roles. Although, maybe backseat isn't the right word — yes, they are given equal page time, but they also share it with the twin's back story as well as a few villains, reducing their roles in the story considerably. In addition, the two rarely interact with each other, which, like “The Girl in the Spider's Web,” shows a downward trend for the series. One of the pleasures of the first three books was the relationship between Blomkvist and Salander, and sadly, the series suffers from splitting them up.
But most disappointingly, “Eye for an Eye” fails to give readers any twists. There’s one little turn, but it’s easy for the reader to see coming, especially if the reader is a seasoned crime thriller book reader.
As for highlights, well, Lagercrantz does add a little to Salander's origin story, although he does so in a way that creates neither empathy nor adrenaline so the scene largely falls flat. Fans of the series will enjoy returning to this world and spending time with the characters they've come to care about over the years, but as previously mentioned, the real joy of these books is the chemistry between Salander and Blomkvist. Lagercrantz appears to be separating them in order to tell a more expansive story, but so far, it hasn’t paid off. As a result, the series, once so popular that it inspired a hit Hollywood film, has cooled considerably.
If the series wants a return to form, bringing these characters together will help immensely.
Content advisory: "The Girl Who Takes An Eye for An Eye" isn't nearly as graphic as the previous books in the Millennium series, but there are brief mentions of sexual situations and some non-graphic fight scenes. Strong language is used throughout.