“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” wraps up Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ trilogy. It began with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, introducing us to crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander. In Salander, Larsson managed to create a rare, amazing character – one that rises beyond the story. Readers can’t get enough of the tough, uncompromising woman who dominates these novels.
“Hornet’s Nest” picks up immediately after the conclusion of the second novel, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.
“Hornet’s Nest” suffers a bit due to the fact that Salander is hospitalized throughout much of the novel. This becomes more Blomkvist’s book. Which isn’t necessarily bad. Blomkvist is a very well drawn character – like Salander, he is uncompromising, honest, stubborn and very flawed. We follow Blomkvist and his cohorts as they work to save Salander from her old enemies, all the while working to expose the secretive government organization who has tormented her for most of her life (including her evil father and brother).
And while this is more of Blomkvist’s book, as we said up front, it is Salander that still dominates the overall narrative. We get to fight her demons. Free her. Right her wrongs.
In the end, ultimately, the book is quite satisfying. The action bits are generally pretty generic, but the fun is diving into the web of intrigue and ultimately exposing the criminals responsible for so much destruction. The book does get sidetracked on a much too long story regarding Millennium’s former editor, but things generally keep things moving toward the final confrontation(s).
It should be noted that Larsson never wavers from his passion for women’s rights, and more importantly, his disdain for the violence that men inflict on women – and those things (whether other people or institutions) that enable this violence.
The book has some great moments and stories – with one of the best being that it allows Salander to grow up. She learns to trust people – even if for just a little. From a friendly doctor to her lawyer to even the police, she finds herself in others debt – something she’s extremely uncomfortable with. It makes for some wonderful moments.
“Hornet’s Nest” has some weaknesses, the first being that things are tied up a bit too neatly. Everything converges with all the events and all the antagonist linked in some fashion. It’s just a bit to convenient. Second, the bad guys are all too often really, really bad. They do horrible things, they are horrible people, and have nothing redeeming about them.
But why quibble. If you liked the first two books of the series, you’ll love “Hornet’s Nest.” It’s wraps things up in a satisfying and exciting fashion. We highly recommend it.
So does this end the tales of Lisbeth Salander? The answer is, probably, ‘yes’. For now.
Author Stieg Larsson died in 2004. He had finished the first three novels about Salander and was working on a fourth when he died. He reportedly had the beginning and ending of the fourth book complete. But Larsson never left a will, and until legalities regarding his estate are fully addressed, we will not likely see the fourth Salander novel completed and published.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.