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The Girl Who Lived Twice Book Review

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Published October 12th 2019
When two bitches fight, only one walks out alive
Lisbeth Salander and her estranged twin sister Camilla finally get to meet face to face in the latest instalment of the Millennium series.

This is David Lagercrantz's third book in the series since stepping into the huge shoes of the late Stieg Larsson. His first attempt at continuing the Millennium series culminated in The Girl in the Spider's Web, in which a brief glance at Camilla and her ruthless character was offered. She did not appear in The Girl who Takes an Eye for an Eye, which featured a whole new cast of villains.

Meeting the evil twin: Lisbeth faces off with her estranged twin sister Camilla in the third of David Lagercrantz's Millennium Series books and the sixth overall.

Released this August, The Girl who Lived Twice is the sixth instalment of the Millennium series in chronological order. In this book, more background information about Camilla is revealed, along with that of Alexander Zalachenko, the abusive father of both Camilla and Lisbeth. By now, most readers would have known that Zalachenko was a Soviet defector protected by a rogue section within the Swedish Security Police. Unbeknownst to everyone, the British foreign service had been investigating him for links to organised crime and had uncovered links between him and a criminal syndicate in Moscow, whose members included an American businessman as well as a senior bureaucrat in the Swedish Ministry of Defence. Future Minister of Defence Johannes Forssell was recruited to go on an expedition to Mount Everest in May 2008 to bring in a former Russian military officer who was in possession of privileged information relevant to the British investigators. He brought along Svante Lindberg as his offsider without knowing about the latter's true allegiance. Things went swiftly downhill from there and Nima Rita, the leader of the Sherpa porters attached to the expedition, became the focus of the international media after two well-known climbers perished on the mountain.

Rita's health suffered greatly following the ill-fated expedition and he was treated at an institute for the mentally unsound. Days before the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, he was due to give an interview to a celebrated investigative journalist but he disappeared before he could meet her. Now, he has been found dead on a Stockholm street without any identification papers and the contact number for Millennium magazine founder Mikael Blomkvist in the pocket of his jacket. Due to the suspicious manner of Rita's death, Blomkvist decides to do his own digging and enlists Salander's help. Salander, meanwhile had been tracking her sister in Moscow and came close to killing the latter. With her cover blown, Salander returned to Stockholm with Camilla hot on her heels.

What follows is two main threads culminating in a fiery showdown at an abandoned factory out in the boondocks of Norrland in which Blomkvist is nearly killed by Camilla and her associates. Of course, he an always count on Salander to save the day like she did way back in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While this is going on, Minister Forssell is recounting his harrowing experience on Mount Everest to one of Blomkvist's colleagues. This explains how Nima Rita came to be in Stockholm and results in several high-ranking members of Zalachenko's criminal syndicate being arrested.

This book features several disparate threads all with a common ending. Lagercrantz gives us a vivid picture of Mount Everest in all its snowy glory. Central to the plot is the dead Sherpa, who has all the vital information on Zalachenko's mob. Camilla is also revealed to have dark secrets of her own which may evoke a mild degree of sympathy. What happens to her at the close of the book seems to give the impression that this may be the final chapter in the series, and the cryptic messages Salander leaves for Blomkvist in the epilogue does nothing to help dispel it.

Like the previous two by the same author, the focus of The Girl who Lived Twice appears to be more on the peripheral characters than on the main ones. Nonetheless, the suspense builds up in a slow burn. With Blomkvist and Salander moving on at the end of the book, it would appear that no further sequels in the near future are likely. If that is the case, this instalment of the Millennium series will serve as some form of closure.
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