Title: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Penguin Group Canada, 2010
Length: 563 pages
Reviewer: Clayton Bye
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Well, it’s done and on the shelves; Stieg Larrson’s last book in a trilogy about a government-generated psychopath who decides she isn’t going to be a victim anymore. Lisbeth Salander is slim, short, boyish, bisexual and can hold her own, physically, against anyone. She also has a photographic memory and is one of the top computer hackers in the world. Living by her own moral code and violently rejecting anyone who tries to make her conform, Lisbeth manages to steal billions of Kroner from a crook, begins living as she wishes and even collects a few friends along the way. However, after tracking down her evil father (who is responsible for virtually everything that’s wrong with her and her life), he and her serial killer brother shoot her in the head and bury her alive, she, of course, digs her way out and almost finishes them off. This brings us to the end of the first two novels.
As the third book begins: Salander is in the hospital awaiting 16 serious charges, including murder. Her father is just 2 rooms down from her. He is also recuperating and spends his days dreaming of killing his daughter. Things take off from this point. A group of friends and honest cops join together to prove Lisbeth is innocent of all charges, that the real perpetrators are an invisible unit operating within the Security Police (SAPO), the same unit responsible for Salander’s odd behaviour and questionable mental state.
From here the book becomes what I would call a police procedural. Author Stieg Larsson obviously knew the inner workings of the Swedish political establishment, the structure and purpose of the police and, of course, the newspaper industry. In The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, Larsson lets that knowledge out as he takes us on a virtual step-by-step journey from Salander with a bullet in her head until she finishes her case in court, to the secondary character (our real hero) Mikail Blomkvist who plans to take down the CEO of the largest newspaper in the country, help the police snuff out the nest of bad cops and criminals operating within the bowels of SAPO and put together a defense strategy for Salander that has the potential to wreak revenge on virtually everyone who has ever hurt her.
Reviewers at The New York Times and The Globe and Mail, to name a few, just don’t like the phenomenal success of these three books. You can feel it all the way through their reviews. Reviews, by the way that just can’t find a way to pick apart these monumental, international bestsellers. I think these reviewers just don’t “get it.”
Yes, Larsson didn’t know all he should have with respect to writing fiction: he was a reporter and news editor for many years. It’s a different kind of writing. Yes, he sometimes let his right wing politics loose on left wing ideals and notions. Yes, there were a number of messages in his writing, the most important being his statement about the state’s role in the diminishment of women, as well as many abhorrent individual behaviours that seem to be accepted by a complacent society. And I say: So what?
Larsson wrote detailed stories that rang so true, suspending judgement (a must for fictional stories to succeed) wasn’t ever an issue. He also entertained us with, in my mind, the most interesting antihero in modern fiction. Lisbeth Salander is such a mixture of characteristics, I believe she has the ability to capture readers from all genres and ages. Too bad Stieg Larrsson died. I’ve read that he intended the series to be 10 books in length. Wouldn’t that have been something?
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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