His name is everywhere these days, even on the cover of the fourth Millennium novel, but most U.S. readers haven't heard of him. But just who is David Lagercrantz, anyway, and why does he have Lisbeth Salander in a Spider's Web? More importantly, why should we care?
It's likely that most of Lisbeth's U.S. fans first heard Lagercrantz's name back in December 2013, when Swedish publisher Norstedts announced that he would take on the responsibility of writing the first posthumous installment of Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium series. Readers in his native Sweden are much better acquainted with Lagercrantz, who penned I am Zlatan Ibrahimović — a ghostwritten autobiography of the famous soccer player — in 2011. That book went on to become the #1 best- and fastest-selling title in Sweden's history.
Until the early 1990s, Lagercrantz worked as a crime journalist for Expressen, a Swedish tabloid, where he covered a grisly series of murders committed by Finnish psychopath Nikita Fouganthine. He later wrote a book — The Angels of Åmsele — about Fouganthine's crimes.
Norstedts' choice of Larsson's successor stirred up controversy despite the writer's qualifications. Larsson's widow, Eva Gabrielsson, took issue with the fact that Lagercrantz is her late partner's political opposite, and has spoken at length regarding her concerns of how Larsson's leftist beliefs, some of which feature prominently in the Millennium novels, will be handled in his absence.
The new Millennium author is no stranger to controversy, however. For I am Zlatan Ibrahimović, Lagercrantz invented quotes from in the soccer player to use in the book, he told Hay Festival attendees. "I don’t think I have any real quotes from him," he said. "I tried to find the literary Ibrahimovic [sic]."
For his part, Lagercrantz has said that he took the job very seriously, and was committed to making The Girl in the Spider's Web worthy of Larsson's legacy. Norstedts wasn't taking any chances. The Guardian notes that the new book's launch "resembles [the] plot of a Steig Larsson novel." To prevent leaks of his work, Lagercrantz was required to write the novel on a computer without an Internet connection, and handed over copies of his manuscript on flash drives.
The most controversial aspect of The Girl in the Spider's Web launch, however, lies in Norstedts' refusal to provide advance copies of Lagercrantz's novel to media outlets for review. The publisher's secrecy raised concerns that the book might be all hype and no delivery. So far, opinions have been mixed, from Lee Child's lackluster New York Times review to The Guardian's assertion that The Girl in the Spider's Web is "a respectful and affectionate homage" to Larsson's existing trilogy.
The Girl in the Spider's Web is available on Tuesday from your favorite retailer. Have you picked up your copy yet? Let me know if you think Lagercrantz is a worthy successor to Larsson!
Image: Columbia Pictures still