** spoiler alert **
"The incident at Stallerholmen was connected with the discoveries at Nykvarn and was actually the purview of the Strängnäs police district in Södermanland county."
WTF? Okay, so I follow the words and accept this as a simple statement of fact (within the context of this HUGELY implausible fiction), but this may be one of the most ridiculous sentences I've read since stumbling painfully through Sarah Palin's I'm-quitting-as-governor-of-AK speech. But by those pitiful standards, Larsson's prose is nothing short of, uh, Shakespearean. Which I'm sure Sarah would refudiate on her Twitter feed....but I digress...
Unfortunately, this latest, but perhaps not last, installment of Stieg Larsson's Millenium series is chock-full of similarly unhelpful sentences and mind-numbing detail, most of which concerns "The Section," an off-the-books division of Säpo, Sweden's secret police. Or I guess it did- I skimmed over so much technical drivel that Larsson could have been writing recipes for köttbullar. Between the relentless expository blather and the coffee-and-sandwich making interludes ...Hornet's Nest clunks and clangs its way to the last lap like a 30 yr old Volvo rebuilt with a Pinto engine.
Here's what went tragically wrong, IMO: Sally, Lisbeth Salander, the Wasp-
the story, the life, the blood of this whole crazy cockup of characters and adventures. When you lock your story into a room in the ICU unit of a hospital for 2/3 of the narrative, well, psssscchhhhtttttt..... that's the sound of momentum leaking away. I'd rather watch Salander decorating her apartment from IKEA online than Blomkvist having soapy sex with a police Glamazon any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.
Lisbeth rocked The Girl Who Played With Fire, far and away the standout book in the Millenium Series. I was frustrated to see her play second fiddle to a nearly-anonymous and endless cast of characters in what should have been her Phoenix moment in ...Hornet's Nest.. So many opportunities went begging: a final showdown between Zalachenko and Salander followed by a breathless and grindingly painful hospital escape by the victor (by the way, in which alternate Sweden was this set? One ruled over by the Muppets's Swedish Chef? What law enforcement agency would place two people who recently tried to shred each other to bits in the same hospital, much less two doors away from each other?); Salander seeking retribution on her former captors and traitors; and, since we had to sit through Berger's melodrama at SMP, why not a fabulous kidnapping and torture of her by her stalker? It was as if Larsson couldn't decide between being an investigative journalist, who must exhaust every story angle with copious research, or a bard of crime fiction, who must propel his story forward with characters in motion. Unfortunately, he seemed to chose the former most of the time, to the detriment of the narrative.
The great bits ARE here: once the turgid detail is sliced away, the tension and intrigue, machinations and calculations remain. For that, I remained committed to the end, to verify that Salander did NOT remain committed and was allowed finally to kick some ass.
Rumor has it a fourth installment is on its way. Of course I'll read it. If only in hope the woman who strutted her stuff in I and II will remain the raging heroine I believe Larsson wanted her to be.
Oh, and the word "media." It's the plural form of the word "medium." Just in case Larsson's editor is reading.