Though there are plenty of lumps in the novel along the way, Salander and Blomkvist have survived the authorship transition intact and are just as compelling as ever ... Mr. Lagercrantz’s efforts to connect unsavory doings in Sweden to machinations within America’s National Security Agency are strained and fuzzy — a bald attempt to capitalize on Edward J. Snowden ... In Spider’s Web, Mr. Lagercrantz demonstrates an instinctive feel for the world Larsson created ... Mr. Lagercrantz captures the weariness, even vulnerability, that lurks beneath these two characters’ toughness ... Spider’s Web is less bloody, less horror movie lurid than its predecessors. In other respects, Mr. Lagercrantz seems to have set about — quite nimbly, for the most part — channeling Larsson’s narrative style, mixing genre clichés with fresh, reportorial details, and plot twists ... Instead of pausing to parse the implausibility of some of the interlinking conspiracies in Spider’s Web, the reader quickly turns pages to see how Salander and Blomkvist will put together the puzzle.
The series that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo doesn't lose its spark in the hands of a new author. Lagercrantz deftly blends the spirit of Larsson's work and characters with his own literary skills and bright imagination ... Spider's Web is an intelligent novel that has Salander entangled in one of the most contentious issues of our times ... a riveting political/techno thriller. It's as gripping as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Unfortunately, the fourth installment, The Girl in the Spider's Web, written by crime journalist David Lagercrantz, does nothing to elevate the series, and one might venture to say it even hurts the legacy of the original ... the novel becomes a soup of flimsy plotlines and convoluted characters that fails to reach the thrilling heights of its predecessors ... He instead awards even the most minor players digressive back-stories, which act as a drag on the momentum of the story ... Most egregious of the digressions, however, is Lagercrantz's commitment to deflating any sense of urgency within the larger murder plot ... What is most frustrating about Lagercrantz's installment is that he never fully trusts the reader, and so key revelations are repeated several times by different characters in connected scenes with little to no new insight. We are forced to wait for the detectives to play catch-up in an exhausting game of telephone ... Lagercrantz seems uncomfortable and out of depth in Larsson's dark world, skirting away from conflict and the bleak parts of life in which Larsson artfully immersed his readers.
Lagercrantz’s first responsibility was to give us more of those two, which promised to be easy enough in Blomkvist’s case ... The plot itself starts with computer hacking — into the National Security Agency in Maryland, no less — and Lagercrantz distinguishes himself by making the computer stuff very human ... Lagercrantz distinguishes himself there too, with a fine and sympathetic portrayal. There’s artificial intelligence and code breaking and bad guys as icy and brutal as you’d like ... Given that Lagercrantz knows she’s what readers want, her long and suspenseful introduction is masterful. It’s a striptease ... certainly the book’s stronger foot is firmly in the 'sheer joy of a new story' camp.
Lagercrantz has toned down the sexual violence, but not at the expense of delivering a cleverly written recreation of the world of the earlier books. The new instalment often reads uncannily like Larsson’s own work, even to the extent of some unwieldy detail concerning minor characters who swiftly vanish from the narrative. This is a book that will — largely speaking — please Larsson admirers ... Lagercrantz’s real achievement here is the subtle development of Lisbeth’s character ... Lisbeth Salander remains, in Lagercrantz’s hands, the most enigmatic and fascinating anti-heroine in fiction.
The question is, can Lagercrantz conjure the soul of these characters we've come to love so much? Alas, the answer is not really. From the start, The Girl in the Spider's Web feels off ... Although many of the characters from the original trilogy are back, there are far too many new ones, few of whom Lagercrantz makes us care about ... The language is often sloppy, lacking Larsson's precision, rigour and fire. In short, Lagercrantz is unable to capture the peculiar thrill – one might call it Stiegness – that made the original books so readable ... Although it's nothing new to see Lisbeth Salander get a raw deal, in this instance, it is particularly sad. Stieg Larsson, her inventor, friend and most ardent flame, always wanted better for her.
Lagercrantz has constructed an elegant plot around different concepts of intelligence ... The biggest narrative decision is how and when to bring Salander and Blomkvist together again, and he paces their reunion nicely. Initially confined to separate paragraphs or chapters, the question of whether they will ever meet face to face becomes an aspect of the story’s escalating tension ... Lagercrantz’s continuation, while never formulaic, is a cleaner and tighter read than the originals, although he follows the template in building the plot slowly and methodically. He is, technically, a more adept novelist than Larsson, smoothly switching viewpoint in two sections where characters come under threat from assassins ... Without ever becoming pastiche, the book is a respectful and affectionate homage to the originals.
Like countless readers, I would welcome a fourth novel in the series that equaled the high standard set by Larsson, but The Girl in the Spider’s Web is not that novel ... It’s fitfully interesting, but more often the story is disjointed and annoying ... I recall the Larsson books unfolding gracefully. Lagercrantz’s narrative is fragmentary and confusing. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the hackers, scientists and killers who emerge briefly, vanish, then turn up again after you’ve forgotten them.
Writing Salander wasn’t easy. In the beginning Lagercrantz exaggerated her too much, making her 'a sort of terrible punk warrior,' and giving her emotions that just didn’t fit her persona ... The Girl in the Spider’s Web, then, is masterful in the way it negotiates mining Larsson’s weaknesses for authenticity’s sake while polishing the rough edges. Lagercrantz’s story is intricate and ambitious, and his new antagonists for Salander and Blomkvist are appreciably exaggerated, without crossing a line into ridiculousness.
The Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist who appear in The Girl in the Spider's Web...are stiff, unappealing puppet versions of the characters who sold more than 80 million books worldwide ... the more serious problem is that he doesn't get the characters. The first sign is the drinking. People who famously swigged coffee on every other page have switched to booze, trying to forget their troubles ... Salander, the pierced and tattooed genius...is even less recognizble. Lagercrantz doesn't do elfin goth; the character has been reduced to the scary freak her detractors in earlier books mistook her for ... That sound you hear as the cone of silence is lifted? It's the moans of the fans.
...[a] worthy, crowd-pleasing fourth installment ... the pleasure resides in watching Lagercrantz (Fall of Man in Wilmslow) corral an enormous cast of characters into an intricate story ... Two new characters make strong impressions ... Lagercrantz, his prose more assured than Larsson's, keeps Salander's fiery rage at the white-hot level her fans will want.
Lagercrantz gives this the timeliest of spins by centering evil on the National Security Agency and its villainous operatives ... Lagercrantz follows the Larsson formula: take a more-or-less ordinary event, in this case a brittle battle over custody rights, and wrap it into a larger crime that the smaller one masks. It’s not as if he doesn’t skip a beat in doing so, but mostly he captures Larsson’s patented tone, a blend of journalistic matter-of-factness and world-weariness ... Passion and fire, check: there are plenty of both here and plenty of loose character-development ends to pick up in another sequel ... Fast-moving, credible, and intelligently told. Larsson fans won’t be disappointed.