Wednesday 1 December 2010

Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest

Final volume in Larsson's Millennium Trilogy and the focus switches to Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, misanthropic hacker and survivor. She has to face the power of the Swedish state in two guises: a corrupt group of secret operatives and the State proper.

Salander faces murder charges: she has the unwanted help of the crusading magazine Millennium and editor Blomqvist's sister, a lawyer. Against her she has the state, the spies, Hell's Angels and a psychopathic killer who feels no pain. Can she use her extraordinary skills (computer hacking, disguise, violence) and will her actions hinder those who are trying to help her? Well, yes and yes are the obvious answers but one of Larsson's skills lies in handling the different threads of the plot, bringing them together and hurling them apart as necessary, like speeding cars trying to knock each other off the road.

More of the secrets of Salander's tormented past are teased out, explaining how the confrontations of her adult life are just about inevitable. Yet the only person who wouldn't use that past as excuse or explanation is Salander herself.

All this is neatly counterpointed by the good guys of the law agonising over the intricacies of the Swedish constitution (don't knock them, look at how long it takes to free an innocent person in the UK, then wait eight years for piddling compensation because a judge doesn't like you). Some of the final resolution of these conflicts is a little rushed and flawed, almost as though it's the author who's trying to convince himself rather than the reader. A minor cavil.

Recommended? Absolutely. Thrilling, horrible, violent, sad, ultimately uplifting. Make sure you read this as the last of the three though.

See The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- The Book and The Movies for a discussion of books and both Swedish and US movies.


Artigiano said...

I actually have these books but haven't started reading. After reading your blog I am going to start tonite!


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