Let me start by saying Larsson gives up any pretense of presenting a mystery in Hornet’s Nest. The first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, had a strong mystery plot, which also served to introduce us to the oddity that is protagonist Lisbeth Salander. The second work, The Girl Who Played With Fire, had a mystery that opened more doors to help the reader understand why Lisbeth is the way she is. With Hornet’s Nest, Larsson kicks those doors down.
While the book lacks a mystery, it’s still a thriller. Like the previous books, it takes a while for Larsson to set the pieces in motion; but once he does, you’re off on a wild ride. Larsson introduces the other players who have conspired to make Lisbeth’s life hell on earth. The thrill comes from seeing how Lisbeth and the advocates around her apply their ingenuity, determination, and bravery to see justice win over corruption. Those advocates also include, of course, star journalist Mikael Blomkvist (or as an angry Lisbeth refers to him, Mikael F***ing Blomkvist).
It’s a pleasure to see Lisbeth prevail, and a pleasure to see our strange girl patch up her relationship with Blomkvist. The stage seemed to be set for the next seven books in Larsson’s planned 10-part series: Lisbeth and Mikael forming an odd couple that would solve mysteries and bring down misogynist thugs and corrupt politicians and businessmen. Two misfits against the evil in the world.
Alas, we may never get to see another book, just when the doors have been kicked open. Swedish law may prevent anyone putting pen to paper to try to see Larsson’s grand work completed. We will also never meet Lisbeth’s twin. Nor will we delve more into the problem of violence against women, perhaps the true theme of these works. But we still have these three books which make a very satisfying package. (Or am I wrong about this being the end?)
What is it about Lisbeth? These books are monsters, breaking sales records all over the world. Yes, they start slow but they soon become can’t-put-’em-down books. Our heroine lacks any sense of social graces. She’s rude, vindictive and unable to relate to most of the world. Does she have Asperger’s Syndrome? Perhaps. Yet, we understand why Lisbeth could be the way she is, because she has lost all trust in the world due to the extraordinary abuse she suffered.
Tiny in stature, she is an intellectual giant with a photographic memory and superhuman computer skills. Readers are amazed at her ability to snatch victory from overwhelming defeat. We root for Lisbeth, because we believe every human being has the right to be in control of her life and to live free. Perhaps that’s the simple reason I love the Girl.
• And here’s what I had to say about the first book a year ago. (Has it really been that long ago?)
Have your read Larssen? What did you think of the books?
Why do you love the Girl?
Young Bill Young here. I cut my adult reading teeth in junior high on Agatha Christie mysteries. With a few exceptions, I left the genre behind once I entered high school and college. My sister, however, remains a big mystery fan, and when she told me she had just finished one of the best mystery novels she’s ever read, I was intrigued. Especially since the book was The Girl with the Dragon Tatto. This book had already been on my radar screen because it has sold like hotcakes and received excellent reviews. The story of author Stieg Larsson, who submitted the first three of ten planned “girl” novels before his untimely death, has only added to the mystique of the book.
Well, I just finished reading it. And, yes, I loved it. Here are my top ten reasons for loving the girl:
1. Protagonist Lisbeth Salander has to be the strangest heroine to ever grace the pages of a whodunit.
2. Protagonist Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist with principles. This is especially refreshing in an age where talking heads and dueling propaganda masquerade as news.
3. It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. (I was never really sure what that saying meant, but I think I have a better understanding since reading this book.)
4. It’s not just a “murder” mystery, it’s also a financial thriller. And a good one.
5. It’s a parable for our times. Every Wall Street speculator who fueled the Great Recession should have to read this book and then give a “class report” to the nation about what they learned.
6. It gives new meaning to the term “dysfunctional family.”
7. It takes us to far off places. Not only will you get to knock around Sweden with Lisbeth and Mikael, you will also travel to Australia and Switzerland.
8. It takes you into the underground world of hackers.
9. It reveals that misogyny is alive and well in progressive Sweden.
10. It’s a love story.
The popularity of the book has led to a movie in Sweden. It will probably be making the foreign film circles in America soon, and I suspect it’s just a matter of time before an English or American movie is made. But don’t wait for the cinematic adaptation. We all know the book is always better than the movie. And this is a good book, indeed!