"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

If you've read the first two Lisbeth Salander books, you probably don't need a recommendation to tell you to read this book. It picks up where the last one left off, and Lisbeth spends a majority of the book in a hospital under police arrest (though that doesn't stop here from wreaking havoc on the computers of, well, whoever she feels like). Mikael Blomkvist immerses himself in getting to the bottom of the Zalachenko affair, Erika Berger goes to a different newspaper and finds herself under attack, and the odious Dr. Teleborian continues his sinister attempts to have Lisbeth institutionalized. Throw in the evil machinations of a shadowy government group, a brilliant defense strategy by Mikael's sister for Lisbeth, and the continued attempts by the police to get to the bottom of all the death and destruction, and you have another successful entry in an already entertaining series.

My only complaint about Stieg Larsson, which in no way detracts from what he has written, is that not a single antagonist is a woman. Yes, yes, Harriet's mother in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unpleasant, and certainly tries to drive Mikael away, but she's not an active participant in any of the conspiracies involved in that book. The women are all strong and self-assured (if somewhat susceptible to Mikael's charms), which is great. But if women can be brave fighters for truth, they can be catty, self-serving bitches too.

Ignoring this minor fault (because, really, it is very minor), the Lisbeth Salander series ends as strong as it started. It is a shame that Stieg Larsson never got to enjoy the enormous popularity of his books, but at the same time he didn't have a chance to drag the series out and sully his efforts with mediocre books. He can remain in our minds a talented author who was taken from us too soon.

Here's to you, Stieg.

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