Number of pages: 400
This is the fourth book in the Millennium series, and the first not written by Stieg Larsson. After the previous two books effectively formed a two-part narrative, this one more or less opens with a blank slate. Millennium Magazine is failing; Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander haven't seen each other in some time, though they do start communicating through his computer, just like in the previous few books (Blomkvist writes messages on his computer, which Salander accesses using her hacking skills).
The main plot starts with a tech company having huge amounts of software stolen from them, apparently by Lisbeth Salander herself. The head of the tech company also has an autistic son, who he realises is an "idiot savant" (basically, similar to the title character in Rain Man) and has an amazing photographic memory, which allows him to draw things he has seen in meticulous detail.
Inevitably there is a murder, and I won't spoil here who gets bumped off, and strangely, the reader is told exactly who did it.
Unfortunately, it's after the murder that the story becomes a little too bland and predictable; the pace slows down and it heads towards a conclusion that is largely predictable. This book is shorter than the first three, and the lack of plot compared to its predecessors is noticeable.
There were two main problems I had with this, other than the fact that the pace just got too slow; first off, there was a large amount of exposition about two thirds of the way in, all about Lisbeth Salander's past; I wasn't sure how much of it had not been explored before by Stieg Larsson, but having it thrust at me in less than bitesize chunks was a little annoying.
Secondly, one of the ways in which the book pads the action out is that at times it jumps back in the timeline, to tell the same events from another point of view, similar to the type of narration I've seen in books by Wilkie Collins, but it often didn't add much to the book. It was a narrative device that I don't recall seeing used in the first three books.
There were a few other minor issues, like already named character suddenly being called things like "the woman" in the narrative, and the occasional recapping on the events of the first few books.
Apart from these issues, the narrative wasn't awful though, and the characters were at least written in a way that seemed true to them, particularly Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, showing that David Lagercrantz had done a good job of carefully reading the original three books. However, this is easily my least favourite title in the series so far.
Next book: Dean Men's Trousers (Irvine Welsh)