3 years ago

The magical Lisbeth Salander novels

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of the Lisbeth Salander novels.

To date (January 2021), a total of six books have been published in the Millennium Series originated by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Larsson wrote the first three Lisbeth Salander novels in a projected series of ten before suddenly passing away at the age of fifty in 2004. Three new books were published posthumously beginning in 2005. By March 2015, the series had sold an aggregate of eighty million copies worldwide.

Shortly afterward, by arrangement with Larsson’s publisher, another Swedish author, David Lagercrantz, picked up the baton. At this writing, he has added three books to the series. All six titles feature the unforgettable anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander, “the girl,” investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and the staff of Millennium, the magazine where Blomkvist works.

This post was updated on February 2, 2021.

The Lisbeth Salander novels to date

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005)

Here’s Amazon’s (which is no doubt the publisher’s) take on this novel: “Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.” My recollection of the book from more than a decade in the past is that it lived up to its over-the-top reviews. I loved the novel.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) — Lisbeth Salander stars again in an engrossing murder mystery

You have never met anyone like Lisbeth Salander, the “girl” in the title — guaranteed. Lisbeth is a tattooed, waif-like young woman with a brain of gargantuan proportions, an eidetic memory, an unsurpassed mastery of the Internet, and a mysterious past. In this unlikely but engrossing story of murder and corruption in the dark corners of contemporary Sweden, Lisbeth’s past is revealed in an encounter reminiscent of the games played out in the bowling alley of the gods. Read the full review.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2007) — The captivating third entry in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series

Salander, one of the most extraordinary characters ever to inhabit the printed page, is one of a large cast that includes the author’s fantasy doppelganger, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist; Mikael’s colleagues at Millennium magazine; Lisbeth’s employer and members of his staff; a hefty number of police officers; a crew of secret agents; assorted prosecutors, social workers, and attorneys; Swedish Cabinet members; and a large group of baddies, including the thugs who hang out in a motorcycle club and two members of Lisbeth’s own family. You might think that such a motley crew of characters could never fit within the confines of a single volume, much less come across as real people. Not so here. Well, maybe not real people. But the novel works. The suspense will raise your blood pressure. In a word, Hornet’s Nest is unputdownable. I regard it as the best so far of the Lisbeth Salander novels. Read the full review.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015) — More than 10 years after Stieg Larsson’s death, Lisbeth Salander returns!

Lisbeth Salander is Sweden’s answer to Wonder Woman, Stephen Hawking, Kevin Mitnick, and Mike Tyson all rolled into one five-foot, 98-pound package. She can debate the finer points of quantum mechanics and number theory with the world’s top physicists and mathematicians, hack her way into the most secure computer system on the planet, punch out a gang of the meanest, nastiest bikers you can imagine — and she has an evil twin. In other words, Lisbeth Salander is completely unbelievable. Yet this novel, and the three that preceded it, are crafted with such skill that you’ll probably get so caught up in the sheer complexity and suspense of the story that you won’t even think about how unlikely it all is. Read the full review.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (2017) — Stieg Larsson’s “girl” is back: the Millennium series continues

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye. All the earlier entries in the series rushed from action to action in an almost dizzying fashion. In Eye for an Eye, there are too many talky passages. At times, the story becomes tedious, and Stieg Larsson’s girl becomes hard to recognize. If I weren’t so bound to the Millennium series, I might well have put the book down before I reached the halfway point. Read the full review.

The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019)—The new Lisbeth Salander novel involves Russia, Nepal, Sweden, and more

Here’s a novel that brings together the Swedish Minister of Defense, a doomed ascent of Mount Everest, Russian mobsters and the GRU, and a paranoid schizophrenic Sherpa guide, with Stieg Larsson‘s mismatched couple, Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander. And she, Lisbeth, is still called a girl even though she’s got to be well into her thirties at least. Does that all sound nuts, or what? Yet unaccountably we read it, from beginning to end. Why? What is it about this insanely unlikely story that keeps us turning the pages to the bitter end? Yes, I confess, that is exactly what I experienced with the new Lisbeth Salander novel, The Girl Who Lived TwiceRead the full review.

About the authors

Stieg Larsson. Image: A&E’s Biography

Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) died of a heart attack at the age of fifty before even the first of the novels in his Millennium Trilogy were published. The trilogy was adapted as three motion pictures in Sweden, and one in the U.S. Larsson was a Left-Wing activist. He was a member of the Communist Workers’ League and served as editor of a Swedish Trotskyite magazine.

David Lagercrantz. Image: author’s site

Journalist David Lagercrantz (born 1962) published ten books, all in Swedish, including both nonfiction and several novels, before Larsson’s estate enlisted him to continue the series of Lisbet Salander novels.

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