Monday, March 1, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

I was excited to get a package the other day and find that Alfred A. Knopf had sent me an advance copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, the third thriller in his series that begins with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and continues with The Girl Who Played With Fire.

It begins almost at the exact moment that the second book ended, with Lisbeth Salander being taken to an emergency room to have her injuries--from being shot in the head and buried alive--treated. As she starts to heal up (yes, she lives), Mikael Blomkvist starts to unravel the complicated legal knots she's been tangled in all her life.

I found the whole story exciting, fairly fast-paced (at least for these characteristically slow-moving Scandinavian mysteries), and deeply satisfying in terms of providing an ending for all the major themes set up in the first two lengthy books.

The stakes in this one are higher, too:
"Somebody must have made that decision. It simply could not have been the government. Ingvar Carlsson had been prime minister at the time, and then Carl Bildt. But no politician would dare to be involved in such a decision, which contradicted all law and justice and which would result in a disastrous scandal if it were ever discovered.
If the government was involved, then Sweden wasn't one iota better than any dictatorship in the entire world."
As it turns out, there is indeed a "disastrous scandal," the bad guys are caught, and the good guys win. Salander finally goes on trial and, with the help of her friends, is able to prove that every one of the claims she's been making her whole life long is absolutely and incontrovertibly true.

As if all that satisfaction weren't enough, the book ends with Lisbeth getting some grisly revenge against her brutish half-brother, who ends up in an abandoned factory with "his feet...nailed solidly to the newly laid plank floor." She considers killing him:
"she saw no reason to let him live any longer. He hated her with a passion that she could not even fathom. What would happen if she turned him over to the police? A trial? A life sentence? When would he be granted parole? How soon would he escape?...How many years would she have to look over her shoulder, waiting for the day when her brother would suddenly turn up again?"
....But murder? Was it worth it? What would happen to her if she killed him? What were the odds that she would avoid discovery? What would she be ready to sacrifice for the satisfaction of firing the nail gun one last time?"
And then finally Lisbeth Salander, a character heretofore without the least particle of social conscience, thinks back to one of the revelations of the mystery in the first book and realizes that "she had the legal right of a citizen and was socially responsible for her actions." So she takes care of her brother in what could, with a stretch of the imagination, be considered a socially responsible manner, helping the police catch a few more criminals along the way.

This book will be available in the U.S. (translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland) on May 27, 2010. If you've read the first two, you already know you want to read it. If you haven't read those first two yet, you have time now--and then you won't have much of a wait for the conclusion to this enormously complicated and entertaining story.


Amanda said...

I know these books are way too violent and gritty for me, but I"m glad you like them!

FreshHell said...

I'm am putting my virtual fingers in my virtual ears and not reading this because I sense spoilers. I've read the first book and not the second yet. LOVED the first one. Can't wait to read the others.

Jeanne said...

Amanda, yes, they're quite violent. My imagination doesn't create clear pictures of that, for whatever reason, so I can read about it but couldn't see the movie.

Freshhell, I try never to reveal anything that would spoil a reader's enjoyment. I think sometime soon I must write a post about what I think of the term "spoilers" and consider some kind of statement about whether I ever write a review that couldn't be read before you read the book.

edj3 said...

FreshHell, you will love the second book. I can hardly wait to read this third one and I'm still very bummed he died and I won't get the other 7 he planned to write. Of course the dying bit was harder on him than it was on me, but still!

Anonymous said...

Your enthusiasm is amazing!

(Reminds me of you in the classroom...)


Cschu said...

Wow! This is great. Glad you got a copy of the book. Is anyone in line to borrow it?

Like you, I really liked the first two books and am dying to find out what happens next!

readersguide said...

Oh, you finished it already! Mine is sitting on the coffee table . . . almost done with Wolf Hall.

Jodie said...

Lalalalala I can not hear you! I know you never spoil Jeanne, despite your great in depth reviews but I think this is one of the few times when I don't want to know anything about the book. Will be back when I get my own copy in paperback ;)

Jeanne said...

Elizabeth, it is a pity Larsson never got to enjoy his fame.

Lemming, you make me smile.

Cschu, you're in line.

Readersguide, are you enjoying the antici...pation?

Jodie, that'll be a while. Oh wait...maybe not in the UK!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harriet said...

I haven't read any of these books, but did you all know there is a movie out of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? It's playing at a film festival here this weekend. The one review of it I've seen was highly favorable.

Jeanne said...

Harriet, I've read it's a good movie. Knowing what happens in the book, though, I'm pretty sure I couldn't stomach some of the scenes.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.