The Girl in the Spider's Web, due out Sept. 1, is written by Swedish journalist David Lagercrantz

Updated August 27, 2015 06:25 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Knopf

Swedish author Stieg Larsson may have died far too young, but his two beloved characters – punk hacker goddess Lisbeth Salander and rumpled but tenacious investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist – happily live on.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, due out Sept. 1 and written by David Lagercrantz, a Swedish journalist, picks up years after the last novel.

Blomkvist hasn’t seen Salander in forever. His reputation is on the skids: His precious Millennium magazine is now controlled by a tabloid corporation that wants to squeeze him out, and his accomplishments are blasted as irrelevant because he’s not on Twitter or Facebook.

Blomqvist lucks into a lead involving Frans Balder, an artificial intelligence expert who invented top-secret technology for super-smart, self-teaching machines, and hired Salander to check for computer security breaches. When Blomqvist arrives at Balder’s home, he finds the scientist shot dead, and his severely autistic 8-year-old son, August, a mute witness to his murder.

Intriguing from the start, Spider’s Web really takes off when Salander and Blomqvist join forces to protect August, an artistic savant who may hold the key to the killer’s identity, and unravel a cybercriminal conspiracy involving the Russian mafia and the U.S. government. Oh yeah, and none other than Lisbeth’s estranged sister, Camilla, who happens to be her evil twin, shows up to wreak some havoc herself.

Lagercrantz does an excellent job of mimicking Larsson’s prose while keeping true to the spirit of his creations. Lisbeth is even more kamikaze but believably human here, and the tension between her and Blomqvist is very much alive and as unresolved as ever.

Spider’s Web is not without controversy – Larsson’s longtime live-in girlfriend Eva Gabrielsson reportedly objected to its release. (The author, who died in 2004 of a heart attack at age 50, had no will, so the millions in Millennium royalties went to his father and brother, not Gabrielsson, who claims Larsson was not close to either.)

That said, anyone craving more Salander bad-assery should get their hands on a copy of Spider’s Web faster than Lisbeth can hack into the NSA.