Reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books for the first time

August 7, 2015, Article by Tom in Books

Tom has just finished reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books for the the very first time. Here’s what he made of the mega-selling series…

I’m not proud to admit it, but I completely ignored Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With… series the first time round. To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure why.

I mean, it was (and still is) a global phenomenon. Eighty million copies sold worldwide. A huge film and TV series, plus a US version starring James Bond. A superb parody in New Yorker.

But with a new book in the series on its way, I realised it was time to put down my Palm Tungsten T3, make a few open sandwiches and Billy’s Pan Pizzas, and then get cracking my way through the first three books. And I’m bloody glad I did.

Even when the third book becomes a bit of a legal minefield (no spoilers in case you haven’t read them), packed with characters with very similar names, it’s still utterly captivating. It takes a very special writer, and indeed a very special cast of characters, to make you want to read three (pretty hefty) volumes, one after another. But the world that Mr Larsson created sucks you in and just doesn’t let go.

The best bits are always when Lisbeth Salander, the pierced, tattooed, kick-ass computer hacker heroine, and Mikael Blomkvist (aka Kalle Bastard Blomkvist), the cynical and somewhat jaded journalist, appear on the page together. Although this happens far too infrequently, particularly in books two and three, it makes it all the more special when they do.

And now the duo are back in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Of course, Stieg sadly died back in 2004, before the books came to global attention. Picking up the mantle is David Lagercrantz, the Swedish journalist and author perhaps best known, until now, for writing footballing genius/nutter Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s excellent autobiography, I Am Zlatan.

Plot details are being kept closely guarded, but it’s fair to say there’s quite a bit of controversy about the book even being published in the first place. Of course, there will always be readers who don’t want to see someone else take control of Blomkvist, Salander, Berger and co, and we understand those fears. However, from Sherlock Holmes to James Bond, via another legendary figure in crime fiction, Hercule Poirot (brought back last year by the brilliant Sophie Hannah), the literary world is full of famous characters who have been written by other authors very successfully. Another cool thing is that any profit the Stieg Larsson estate makes from the new book will be donated to the anti-racism magazine Expo, of which Larsson was co-founder and editor-in-chief from 1995 until his death.

We won’t be able to judge the new book until it’s published, but no matter what happens, the original trilogy will always be one of the greatest, most original crime fiction series of all time. Fingers crossed that The Girl in the Spider’s Web adds to this legacy. I think it will.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is published in hardback and ebook on 27 August 2015

Girl in the Spider's Web FINAL COVER IMAGE