24 November 2009

Review: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST, Stieg Larsson

MacLehose Press, 2009. Translated from Swedish by Reg Keeland. Originally published in Sweden in 2007. Author Stieg Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50.
ISBN 978-1-906694-16-6
I read my copy on my Kindle.

The story opens with Lisbeth Salander's admission to Emergency at the Salengrenska hospital in Goteborg with a gunshot wound to the head. At the same time a second patient, her father, is to be admitted with severe axe wounds.
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST, the third in the Millenium trilogy, is a close sequel to the second in the series, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.

In fact, if you haven't read FIRE, and even the first, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, then I think little of HORNET'S NEST will make sense. The explanations for what is happening in HORNET'S NEST are firmly rooted in both the previous novels, but most definitely in FIRE.
(If you are looking for an overview of each, try this page at Petrona)

Lisbeth Salander's fight to prove the charges against her are wrong results in the unveiling of a conspiracy that has existed for a decade and a half, where the rights of a 12 year old girl were sacrificed for "the good of the state."

In the face of so many other excellent reviews and commentaries on HORNET'S NEST such as those you'll find on Reactions for Reading, DJs krimiblog, Euro Crime, Crime Scraps, Detectives Beyond Borders, and Mack Captures Crime, just to name a few, I'm struggling here to say anything original.

For me, Larsson's women's rights agenda was stronger in this novel than in the other two. Right from the beginning we have an image of Salander as some sort of warrior. The opening paragraphs tell us about the six hundred women who served in the American Civil War, and then later we are reminded of the Amazons, and then the women's army that existed among the Fon of Dahomey. It is hard not to see Advokat Annika Giannini, Salander's lawyer in this role too. She turns out to be a courtroom lion whom the proecutors severely underestimate.
The other theme that comes through strong and clear is the power of the press to make or break a government, and even more the role/duty of a journalist to seacrh out the truth.

But enough, I'm not going to tell you more, otherwise I'll reveal too much.

The criticism others have made of the earlier two books is that they were still in need of some editing, that they were too long. THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST is in reality no shorter. In fact it probably could have done with tighter editing, but I really came to accept that as Larsson's style. He just had to make sure that the reader has all the required detail to get the right picture. For me the last section which ties the ends off was just a little too long. But that was probably because I was anxious to finish. According to my records it took me 12 days to read, rather than the 4 days or so I usually allow.

As I remarked the other day, HORNET'S NEST has made it into my top 10 books published in 2009, but it won't make it into my final top 10 read in the year.

My rating: 4.6

My other reviews:
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (rated 4.8)
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (rated 4.7)

4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. You always give an interesting and (to me) very helpful perspective on the books you profile. Interesting that you mention the length of the book as part of Larsson's style. I think some authors do just write at more length than others do, and give more detail.

Dorte H said...

I am glad you liked it. And I agree; length is part of Larsson´s style.

He could have edited them, but still they are a novelty.

Marg said...

Did you feel as though the story was left hanging given that the original plan was to have a much longer series featuring Lisbeth or does it feel complete?

Kerrie said...

It did feel finished Marg. I was surprised because there was one loose thread that I was aware of by the time we got to the last section, but then that was tied off.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin