Girl In The Spider's Web: praise for controversial sequel

Successor to Stieg Larsson manages to capture Girl With The Dragon Tattoo style

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
(Image credit: Stuart Wilson)

The Girl In The Spider's Web, the follow-up to Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium Trilogy, has been met with wide acclaim – despite its troubled publication and controversy over the author.

The earlier books have been criticised for explicit depictions of violence and sexual abuse of women, but the latest novel in the bestselling series was highly controversial long before it even hit the shelves. The reason? The Girl In The Spider's Web is not the work of original author Stieg Larsson, who died in 2004, but rather fellow Swede David Lagercrantz, until now best known for ghostwriting the autobiography of footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

While Larsson did leave behind a draft for a fourth novel and synopses for several follow-ups, legal disputes meant that Lagercrantz had no access to Larsson's drafts and instead worked from scratch to create The Girl In The Spider's Web.

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Despite all these setbacks, however, the new novel's reception has been largely positive. Much of the praise for the fourth instalment has focussed on Lagercrantz's skillful approximation of Larsson's signature style. "David Lagercrantz takes the reins with prowess," says USA Today's Patrick Adams, resulting in a "twisty, bloody thrill ride".

The "second most anticipated novel of the year", after Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, lives up to the hype, according to Mark Lawson in The Guardian. Lawson singles out Lagercrantz's "elegant plot", and even daringly pronounces him "technically, a more adept novelist than Larsson". The Daily Telegraph's Jake Kerridge doesn't go quite so far, but nonetheless declares: "I kept forgetting for several pages at a time that I wasn’t reading genuine Larsson."

The Washington Post is one of the few publications to go against the grain. "Like countless readers, I would welcome a fourth novel in the series that equalled the high standard set by Larsson," says reviewer Patrick Anderson. "But The Girl in the Spider's Web is not that novel," he says, labelling Lagercrantz's effort "disjointed" and "confusing" and criticising the book's predilection for "incomprehensible tech-talk".

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