The Girl in the Spider’s Web, (Millennium #4) David Lagercrantz, Stieg Larsson (creator), George Goulding (translator), Simon Vance (narrator).
I always look forward to listening to the books Simon Vance narrates. He elevates every book he reads by using just the right tone and emphasis, by grasping the accents and nuances of each character and by using the most authentic expression to provide meaningful dialogues between the characters and the descriptions of events. His interpretation of the story makes it come alive.
Mikael Blomkvist, the devoted, super ethical Millennium journalist and Lisbeth Salander, the rather unusual, punk, computer genius and hacker par excellence, who is somewhere on the autism scale, have once again teamed up as superheroes. When they join forces, they make a formidable crime-solving partnership. Their page-turning antics and adventures keep the reader on the edge of the seat.
In this novel, Lisbeth Salander did some heavy hacking for Frans Balder, a well-known and respected computer scientist. He had been working in Silicon Valley, but recently had moved back to Sweden. His creation, a game called Superkraft, which used artificial intelligence, had been stolen. He wanted Lisbeth to find out who did it. Unrelated to that investigation, a young man who had worked on the development of the game with Balder, had contacted Blomkvist. He was worried about Balder who had completely changed and become reclusive. He hoped to encourage Mikael to do some investigative journalism about the theft, and its possible ramifications, offering him the possibility of a great story.
It was also around this time that a conspiracy was blooming at the magazine, Millennium. In need of cash, Millennium had been forced to take on a partner, Serner Media. They have started making waves, denigrating Mikael publicly. They want Blomkvist out of the picture, to remove his influence, so they can take the content of the magazine in another direction. The situation made Blomkvist question his desire to continue in his profession. He wonders if it isn’t, perhaps, time for a change. A great story would be a windfall at this time.
As Lisbeth did her research, she hacked into secret government files and discovered that the government was in bed with strange bedfellows. She further discovered the existence of a group called the Spiders. The leader of the Spiders is Thanos, and Wasp happens to be the Marvel comic book enemy of Thanos. Lisbeth is Wasp. Who is Thanos? Something else was afoot in the world. Lisbeth began to suspect that the Spider group was connected to her dad’s former nefarious career and that her twin sister Camilla, whom she had not seen for years, might be involved. The Spider Group appears to be after Balder’s latest research in the area of Artificial Intelligence.
Balder is in great danger as is his son, now living with him in his home in Sweden. His wife was given sole custody of the child as Frans was ruled unfit as a parent, but she had allowed him to take August, when he showed up at her door; her boyfriend soon objected. For years, Balder had been sending money to care for his son and offer him every opportunity, but her boyfriend had stolen it and used it for his own purposes. Without August, the money he was used to spending on himself, stopped coming.
As Salander continued to track down the clues about the cyber spies and the possible involvement of her family, she and Blomkvist make contact with each other. He tells her that someone who worked with Blomkvist on the development of Superkraft, wants him to contact Balder. Balder, however, also contacted Blomkvist and explained that he wanted to reveal his secrets to him so that they could be made public, removing the danger to him of someone trying to steal his latest research on AI, which could be dangerous in the wrong hands. However, he did not realize the scope of the actual danger he faced. After his murder, Blomkvist and Lisbeth find themselves involved in a treacherous scheme involving several countries.
She is faced with the task of protecting Balder’s eight year old son. Their situation is perilous. Lisbeth recognizes the similarities between herself and August, and she is determined to keep him safe and help him to use his skills to reveal his father’s murderer. He is a savant, and his special mathematical and artistic skills will be invaluable in the search for the criminals. She totally understands August and finds ways to communicate with him.
Together with Lisbeth’s unusual skills and Blomkvist’s ability to publicize her findings, they are quite the team. The story is exciting as the ring of murderous spies and hackers hunt for August and Salander and she and Blomkvist hunt for them with the help of various law enforcement agents and agencies of the highest calibre. Will the story save Millennium and Blomkvist’s reputation be restored? All of the loose ends will knit together and Lisbeth will make another of her clean getaways, even though there are those who want to punish her for the crimes she has committed, regardless of the reasons for the law breaking or the positive end results exposing corruption on several fronts.
David Lagercrantz, is the author who has picked up the thread of the Stieg Larsson trilogy, featuring Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, as if he was his doppelganger. The story is sometimes confusing as it goes off into many directions, but when the novel ends, the reader will be completely satisfied with the experience and will feel very much like there is another in the offing which just might feature Lisbeth’s evil twin sister, Camilla. We shall all have to eagerly wait and see.