Book review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The first third of this book is absolutely dire. Seriously. I almost could not get through it. I knew it was going to be bad, because a friend had already warned me, but still. I know that Larsson is dead, and his estate is in a shambles, but does he not have an editor? The first third is the same length as a short book in its own right, and it could easily have been cut out almost entirely. Do I really need to know how every single department within the Swedish police force works and how they interact with one another? Does the book really need 500 different characters, all of whom have names I barely remember one page to the next? No and no.

BUT having said that…

Wow the last two thirds are good! Again, Larsson completely sucks you in.  Although I definitely did not like the book as much as the previous two, it still gripped me to the point where I could barely put the book down on the tube and sat glued to it for about an hour and a half when I got home, determined to finish it as soon as I could.

The story picks up exactly where the last one left off – Salander has been shot in the head and is about to undergo delicate surgery to remove the bullet. Her father has been shot and killed, two of his cohorts were shot, two police officers have been attacked, and despite her condition, the blame looks like it might fall on her. Teleborian, the psychiatrist that ‘treated’ her when she was 13, is back on the scene and determined to get her locked up again, and the agents that protected her father for so many years want to keep their story quiet, whatever it takes.

The book is essentially a revenge novel. It largely takes place in hospitals, police stations and in the court room. There is not nearly as much violence in it as in the first two, although there are a lot of references to things that have happened in the past. The last third consists of character after shady character being brought to their knees thanks to a few good police officers and Blomkvist and Salander’s partnership. Every time another piece of the puzzle was revealed and they trapped another one of the government criminals down, I wanted to high five someone. When Blomkvist’s sister starts lashing in to Teleborian during Salander’s trial, I wanted to do a ‘YESSSSS’ air grab. It’s a very satisfying read.

If you have JUST read the second one, I would probably wait a little while before picking this up. The first third is really off putting, and I think if you had just been absorbed in book two, you would probably put this down and possibly not pick it back up again. But if it has been a few months since you read the second one, and you are ready to enter this world of Swedish corruption, violence and unlikely cyber hacking, then definitely buy this book.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson

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