The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz
Lisbeth Salander is back! In all her dark glory, she is fighting against the forces of institutional greed that seek to control lives. Her fights for Truth and Justice have been rather unconventional throughout this series: her life has been constricted and she has few friends — at least none in the conventional sense. In many ways she is a savant whose computer skills and unnerving focus are far superior to her nearly non-existent social skills. Lisbeth is a morally complex woman who refuses to accept being a victim. She is “a crusader,” in Lagercrantz’s view.
This is evident as the fifth novel in the series opens. She is serving a two-month prison sentence for “unlawful use of property and reckless endangerment” for protecting and hiding an eight-year old autistic boy, a continuation from the previous novel, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Prison, as we soon learn, cannot constrain her relentless focus. Even there she acts to protect the weak. She has consistent standards: “First you find out the truth. Then you take revenge.” When someone dear to Lisbeth is murdered she is ready to kill.
The prison, Lisbeth’s childhood and present, the Swedish legal, financial, and social systems, and her limited circle of friends continue to intersect in one giant Venn diagram with her in the midst of all its intersecting points. Computers, science (her study of quantum field theory), friendship, and twins form the core of this novel. The studies of twins reared apart are crucial to its narrative and its backstory. The true story of the “Jim Twins” from Ohio enlightens the fictional story of Leo Mannheim and Daniel Brolin in a particularly well-developed plot line. And, we must remember that Lisbeth has “a nightmare sister,” the dastardly Camilla. Is it nature or nurture that makes them who they are? They were included on a “register from the Institute of Human Genetics and were regarded as ideal contacts.” Their father was “A highly gifted monster, and that’s what made the children so very interesting.”
Few characters in literature have been so thoroughly and differently abused as Lisbeth Salander, who continues to rise as a Phoenix from the fire. Beatings, stabbings, and rapes have battered and built her, creating a woman reluctant to form friendships yet maniacally devoted to the few she loves. Her experiences, rather than defeating her, have fostered a fierce desire and the means to protect herself and those special to her. Lisbeth’s need to destroy those who do ill to others—physically, psychologically, financially—is equally powerful. Chief Inspector Jan Bublanski asks, “Why is she not like other people?” That difference creates what Lagercrantz once called “a new kind of female heroine.”
In his second stab at Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” Series, David Lagercrantz has brought more focus to the prose and a tightened, but still elaborate plot as he explores Lisbeth’s origin story. For those unfamiliar with this series, Lagercrantz provides brief biographies of the well-known continuing characters. And, for the first time, readers learn why Lisbeth has a dragon tattoo on her back. If Larsson’s vision of a ten-part series is to eventuate, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye fulfills the promise of good stories written well, and seems to set the stage for a new novel that centers on the stock market, Internet trolls, and the parallel crash of truth.