Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson
Translated from Swedish by: Reg Keeland
Knopf, 2010
576 pages

My Swedish friend Katarina introduced me to Stieg Larsson's work in 2008 when she gave me The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium series. I didn't read it until May 2009, but when I finally did, it blew me away. I pronounced it "the greatest mystery novel ever written" in my blog. Book two, The Girl Who Played With Fire, was even more riveting. I wanted to read the third and final book -- The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest -- right away, and yet I didn't because I didn't want it to end. My curiosity finally got the best of me, though. So here we are.

The second book ended with a cliffhanger: heroine Salander had been shot, buried alive, and was being rescued; meanwhile, the "Bad Guy" was (we hoped) bleeding to death. Book three opens from the perspective of the surgeon who's working on both characters and then shifts to a totally new intriguing story that features secret government organizations and cover-ups. Much of the book is focused on the police investigation and legal proceedings, so there's not nearly as much action in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest as in the previous books. It's more of a thriller than a mystery, but still moves at the quick pace we've come to know and love. We get to know some of the minor characters more (in particular, Giannini, Michael Blomkvist's attorney sister -- she rocks) and meet some new ones. I'm sticking to my usual "don't give too much away" policy here, but you can always find more plot details online if you want.

My biggest concern about The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest before reading it (other than coming to the end of the series) was that it wouldn't end to my satisfaction. I had read somewhere online that Larsson had actually planned a series of seven (or more?) books featuring journalist Blomkvist and genius Salander. However, when I finally got to the end, I felt as if most of my questions were answered.

Still, I'm a little depressed that there won't be more books. I maintain my opinion in previous entries that Salander is one of the most unique literary characters I've ever "met" and I will miss her dearly. The bottom line: I LOVE THIS TRILOGY. Stieg Larsson, why did you have to leave us so soon?

P.S. If you also liked the Millennium series, you might want to check out the three Swedish movies based on the books. They're in Swedish (of course!) but are subtitled in English. Noomi Rapace, the actress who plays Salander -- well, she totally is Salander -- great casting there. The movies follow the books about as well as any movie ever does. There's supposed to be a Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo coming out sometime next year and I will definitely want to see it . . . Daniel Craig should make an interesting Blomkvist. Not sure about some of the other casting, though. We'll see!