In 2015, author David Lagercrantz took over the incredibly popular Millennium Series started by the late Stieg Larsson. Both The Girl in the Spiders Web and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye served to build on the mythology that Larsson created around his heroine Lisbeth Salander. In particular, Salander’s main antagonist across both these two books and the latest entry, The Girl Who Lived Twice, is her evil twin sister Camilla, who has picked up the mantel of their corrupt father Zalchenko.
Like all good crime novels involving journalists, the plot of the new book is built around an investigation. A homeless man is found dead on the streets of Stockholm. The police rule it as suicide by drug overdose but the coroner thinks there is something odd about the man and the way he died, not least of which is that he had campaigning journalist Mikael Blomkvist’s phone number in his pocket. She calls Blomkvist and he is slowly drawn into the case, finding it connected to a politician and a fellow journalist with whom he (in true Blomkvist style) quickly forms a relationship. At the same time Lisbeth Salander is still both hunting and on the run from her sister and her sister’s criminal organisation. At a bit of a stalemate, Camilla hatches a plan to bring Salander into the open back in Sweden.
Blomkvists’ investigation, while leading him to a tragic Everest expedition, ties into the ongoing plotline of Russian interference in Swedish affairs. Lagercrantz builds a reasonably effective mystery here but it is resolved not so much by investigation but by one of the key players coming forward and delivering a lengthy exposition and mea culpa. And Salander’s story, when she isn’t just helping Blomkvist, or engaging in a spot of vicarious revenge on behalf of a new lover, is related to the cat and mouse game with her sister which has been going now across three volumes. The fairly incompetent bikie gang get a look in, Inspector Bublanski gets a walk on role and the team at Millennium get a mention every now and then.
All this is to say that The Girl Who Lived Twice (besides sounding like the name of a James Bond film) finds the Millennium series becoming a little repetitive. Lagercrantz weaves an effective tale but everything that happens, including the investigation, is tied into the bigger story that first Larsson and then Lagercrantz has been telling for the last few books and everything else feels like it has been done before. So this book, engaging though it is at times, is purely for continuing fans of Blomkvist, Salander and their offsiders. The good news is that this volume feels like a wrap up of a trilogy from Lagercrantz, including tying up some loose ends from the Larsson books. So the series may continue (Larsson apparently plotted out ten novels) but if so, it feels like it might be time for the mantel to be taken up by another writer.