Kemper's Reviews > The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
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Jun 04, 10

bookshelves: crime-mystery, scandinavian-mayhem, legal, thriller
Read in June, 2010

Lisbeth Salander, we hardly knew ye.

It seems like a particularly cruel joke that Steig Larsson died shortly after getting a deal to publish his Millennium Trilogy. Would he have continued on with these tales of Salander and journalist Mikeal Blomkvist if he would have lived? Unless the rumors are true about Larsson’s long-time girlfriend having a laptop with a fourth book saved on it stuck in a safety deposit box somewhere as she fights with his family over the cash cow this series has become, we gotta assume that this is the last we’ll see of Larsson’s dynamic duo. And it is a crying shame because Salander has quickly become one of my all-time favorite characters.

This one picks up almost immediately after the events of The Girl Who Played With Fire, and I can’t say much about the plot without spoiling that one. (Anyone interested in this series should read them in order if at all possible.) As the title indicates, Salander started an almighty shit storm in the last book. The anti-social, brilliant, violent, revenge-driven hacker has managed to kick off a constitutional crisis that shocks the Swedish government to the very highest levels and threatens numerous deserving douche bags with exposure of past crimes. Atta girl, Lisbeth!

Meanwhile, Blomkvist recruits a number of unlikely allies as he tries to save Lisbeth by publishing her true story as he plays a variety of dangerous cat-and-mouse games with the people trying to shut her up for good. Of course, his biggest headache will be convincing the pain-in-the-ass Salander to cooperate in trying to save herself.

Oddly enough, each book in the trilogy reads like a different type of genre story. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a traditional whodunit mystery with modern twists. The Girl Who Played With Fire was more of a fast-paced action thriller. And this one reads more like a legal suspense novel, including an incredible trial scene. There’s an overall arc to the three books with events from the first one not paying off until near the end of this one, but they have three distinct personalities.

Despite being over 550 pages, it reads quickly, but it isn’t flawless. There’s a sub-plot with Blomkvist’s friend and sometime lover Erika Berger being the victim of a stalker as she struggles with a new job as a newspaper editor that seems out of place with the rest of the book.

And there’s two other things holding this novel back. First is that the heart of the these books is the character of Salander. While Blomkvist and the supporting characters are all engaging enough, it’s Lisbeth that made these books a cut above the normal mystery/crime thrillers. But circumstances here keep Salander out of the main action for most of the story. It’s a shame that we didn’t get more of her in Larsson’s last book.

Second, even though Salander and Blomkvist are the main characters, in the three books, they’ve only got to work together directly for about half of one novel. They get very few scenes together other than that, and that odd couple aspect was a great part of the first book and their unlikely friendship is a key driver to the plots of all three novels so it’s weird to realize that they spent more time apart than together.

Despite these points, I still loved these books and their slightly off-beat structure. I only wish that Steig Larsson was alive and sitting in Sweden on a pile of money as he churned out more of these terrific thrillers
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Cjandres (last edited Nov 05, 2010 01:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cjandres I'm going to miss Lisbeth too. After reading the third book that there is still more to her. I hope the rumors are true and there is a fourth book!


Kemper Cjandres wrote: "I'm going to miss Lisbeth too. After reading the third book that there is still more to her. I hope the rumors are true and there is a fourth book!"

Yeah, if the 4th one exists (and I've got doubts about it) then it sounds like the legal battle will take years to sort out from what I've read.


Dennis Fischman Will we ever get to meet Lisbeth's twin sister?


Diana I don't remember her being a twin, although I did remember a sister mentioned. I'd like to know more about her!


message 5: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne Well said, I wish he were still alive too. Are you going to read the girlfriend's memoir that she just published?


Jose Arturo I agree with what you wrote about salander missing most of the action, I kept thinking she would get up from her hospital bed and kick someones ass & what's up with her sister? what's the point of having a twin if she doesn't turn out to be evil & try to impersonate you? Overall I enjoyed it but it's def. not the best out of the 3 books.


Kemper Jose Arturo wrote: "I agree with what you wrote about salander missing most of the action, I kept thinking she would get up from her hospital bed and kick someones ass & what's up with her sister? what's the point of ..."

I've always assumed we would have gotten more with the sister in later books if Larsson hadn't died. Like you, I enjoyed this one, too, but it's definately the most problematic of the three books.


message 8: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Hendrix The fourth book in the series is, according to Larsson's longtime girlfriend, 3/4ths complete, with outlines for the rest of the book detailed, as well as extensive plot summaries for a fifth and sixth.
And, from what I've gathered, there is about a 0.27% chance of anything else coming to press. Unfortunate.


Kathy Kosek Good review. I too wish Larson was still alive and got all the recognition and money he deserved for this series. Who knows maybe the twin sister is part of the fourth unpublished book?


Kemper Kathy wrote: "Good review. I too wish Larson was still alive and got all the recognition and money he deserved for this series. Who knows maybe the twin sister is part of the fourth unpublished book?"

Thanks. I read recently that family is still battling his girlfriend and that the family was now hiring a writer to carry on the series, but it wouldn't be based on anything Larson wrote before he died. Rumors are still going that the girlfriend has a partially completed last book hidden away.


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