“He went into the kitchen where he made himself two sandwiches with cheddar and prosciutto and a bowl of yoghurt and muesli.”
This was the moment when I started to regret reading the fourth installment of the hijacked Millennium series. Blomkvist has been gentrified. Does he eat sandwiches? Yes (a lot). But prosciutto and muesli?! No. Oh and cheddar is known generically as ‘cheese’.
The controversy of this book is very well known. Essentially, ailing Swedish publisher Norstedts turns to aristo author David Lagercrantz to pen the fourth book backed by Larsson’s father and brother while partner of 32 years is powerless. (Swedish law means that unmarrried partners do not inherit if not specified in the deceased’s will. Given that Larsson died at 50 of a heart attack after climbing a flight of stairs when the lift broke down, that didn’t really happen).
The irony is that Larsson’s heroine Salander is fighting the establishment…but effectively the rights to his book are now in the hands of Sweden’s establishment as he is pretty much their biggest export since Ikea.
In a way, it is irrelevant that Larsson and Lagercrantz came from different backgrounds. While Larsson’s father was a factory worker from the industrial north, Lagercrantz’s was editor-in-chief of one of Sweden’s most influential newspapers, and his grandmother was a countess.
It is also worth saying that it is not that the book is bad. It is technically really quite good although it does get a bit far fetched with all the US intelligence bits. But it is just not the same. It is like returning to a house you once knew and loved with everything rearranged and in a different order. (And it is of course hard to resist the temptation to do so!)
I think the tragedy is that ultimately, Larsson had actually laid out plans for his remaining novels but the schism between his family and his partner have created this lack of cooperation. Could they not have tried to get along?!
Overall it is the small details though that really grate. There aren’t enough goddamn sandwiches in this book. It was part of the story ridiculously enough just as in Mad Men drinking and smoking every five minutes at the office is…normal.
And Larsson’s Salander would never have come up with this line in response to a man who not only beat up his wife, but also his autistic child:
“I think August has been hurt enough, so there’s a slight chance that you and your friend might get off more lightly.”
Perhaps though it is the last line that is the worst of all. I’ve already mentioned cheese
but this, after a reunion between Blomkvist and Salander, is terrible:
“A star fell outside in the night sky”