'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is back in 5th Millennium book

STOCKHOLM: Lisbeth Salander, the androgynous heroine and tattooed computer hacker from the Millennium series, is set to grip readers' imaginations again as the fifth volume hits the bookshelves on Thursday.

The new book by the 55-year-old David Lagercrantz, titled The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye, promises to reveal more secrets surrounding the mysterious Salander's troubled childhood and the true meaning behind her iconic dragon-shaped tattoo.

When Lagercrantz's fourth tome The Girl in the Spider's Web, which received mixed reviews, was launched in 2015, he was met with overcrowded press conferences, journalists waiting in queue for interviews, and he signed books until midnight.

The launch of the fifth volume is more low key as Lagercrantz will make no public appearance until he kicks off his book tour on Sept 10.

The Girl in the Spider's Web was the first to continue the trilogy conceived by Stieg Larsson, who became one of the world's best-loved crime writers.

But Larsson's fame came posthumously as he died at the age of 50 from heart attack in 2004, a year before the release of the first book in the series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007).

More banal

While many Larsson fans rejoiced over the continuation of the trilogy when Lagercrantz was selected to write the fourth book, some – including Larsson's longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson – vehemently opposed him taking up the torch, calling him "a totally idiotic choice".

"Everybody was very curious. We wanted to see if he was going to succeed," Kerstin Bergman, literature professor at Lund University, told AFP.

"It was a good crime novel, very different from Stieg Larsson's (book)," she said, referring to the fourth book, which sold six million copies in 47 countries.

"There were introspective characters", Bergman added.

Lagercrantz intends to transform the series and convince those who criticise his endeavour.

But as much as readers can't get enough of Lisbeth's punk-rock style and feminist flair, the hype over Lagercrantz's continuation of the series is not what it used to be.

"Now it's more banal. People love characters and want to read about their adventures," said Bergman, who is also a specialist in Nordic Noir, a genre that mixes crime fiction and social criticism.

"Continuing the series as it did is extremely unusual (...) it's an exclusively commercial project, but the choice of Lagercrantz is probably the best," Bergman said.

More sensitive character

In The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye, Lagercrantz throws Salander "into the worst prison for women, where she immediately encounters a lot of problems," he told AFP in the spring.

Alongside Lisbeth, readers will find Mikael Blomqvist, a talented investigative journalist who's also worn out by life.

As the duo investigate the abuse of power and the social injustice that Lisbeth has gone through, they try to overcome new obstacles.

And if the author believes that Lisbeth has seen enough in the previous crime novels, then the worst may be yet to come.

Lagercrantz has admitted that bringing this young woman with a dark past back to life in the books has caused him a headache. Contrary to Stieg Larsson, Lagercrantz said he would have chosen a heroine with a "sweeter, nicer and more sensitive" character.

In a relentless search for inspiration, Lagercrantz wrote on his publishing company's website that he interviewed "doctors, archivists, robotics researchers, Bangladeshi bloggers threatened to death" and visited a prison in southeastern Sweden.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye is to be published in 34 countries. Twenty-six of these countries, including Britain, the United States, Germany and France, will release the book on Thursday.

A former journalist, Lagercrantz was previously best known for his biography of footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lagercrantz has also signed on to write the sixth book, which he insisted would be his last in the series. — AFP