Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

This, the third in the Millennium Trilogy completes the only three books that Larsson wrote before his death of a heart attack in 2004. I continue to have mixed feelings about the previous two and my complaints have been consistent, so does this finish things off nicely, especially bearing in the mind the cliffhanger of the second part? SPOILERS AHEAD!

Lisbeth Salander is still a suspect in the murders from the second book, only the police can’t really talk to her while she is still in a coma after her brush with death in The Girl Who Played With Fire when somebody put a bullet in her head. Less than about a quarter of the way into the book, she is awake though and boy is she incredibly pissed off. You can see this as an immediate sequel to the previous book as both threads get tied up. Not only are the crimes solved, but Salander gets to lay to rest many of her own demons. She goes after the people in authority who put her at risk, enabled it, and permitted it to continue, not to mention the media who painted her as an evil “lesbian satanist” and much worse.

Most of the characters from the previous books are here and naturally, we are introduced to some new characters too though it feels there are too many – there was no real reason to include everyone from the previous books because the text feels bogged down in too many of them. Some of these people could have faded into the background, but that’s just my opinion.

Satisfying in its conclusion with a real sense of closure, I was surprised to learn that a fourth is in the works, based in Larsson’s notes and written by somebody else. I doubt I will read it, it doesn’t fill me with delight and all three of these books were needlessly heavy-going at times. Thrillers need to be punchy and action packed and though some of the text in these books does just that, it’s not always. I have no problem with the length, merely with unnecessarily dense text – though let me say for a third time that I’m not sure whether that is Scandinavian tradition, Larsson’s writing style or the result of translation.

Overall, this is a good trilogy and I would say this was my favourite of all three books – but it is not without its faults. For me, it doesn’t have re-readability factor and that’s a real shame. It’s always a pleasure when each book in a series is better than the one that preceded it, and that is certainly the case here.

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