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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Books – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest – Stieg Larsson

Star rating 9/10

If you haven’t started on the Millennium trilogy by this late Swedish crime genius yet, firstly - where have you been - and secondly - I am jealous of all the hours of reading pleasure you have yet to come. But please be warned, it is a strong willed individual who can resist leaving any time lag at all between devouring the three volumes. I have spent the last three weeks with my head and brain immersed in these superbly thrilling volumes. So get your excuses ready for your boss for unmet deadlines now…

This third volume is really just a continuation of the second Book, ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’, as there is hardly a paper width between the two tales. We are again deep in trouble with the Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist helping the enigma that is Lisbeth Salander – who is facing a murder trial and incarceration for life on the grounds of insanity. This has got to be the biggest potential miscarriage of justice in history. Abused and used since she was a girl, Salander is the fall girl for a massive state cover up involving Soviet defectors, secret police, and reaching its tentacles even into the Swedish Government.

Salander is that crazy yet appealing mix of vulnerability and feistiness that is so beguiling and intriguing. She is in a hospital bed for a lot of the book, desperately trying to use her amazing IT skills to get her out of a colossal mess, and to help out anyone who she considers to be a loyal friend, which it has to be said is not an extensive group of people. Past experience has taught Salander that it is a mistake to trust - period. And she is no angel for those who do her wrong. I do like a woman who knows how to bear grudges – and boy does she bear them well.

Larsson, who tragically died before these novels became the worldwide publishing phenomenon that they are today (and deservedly so – unlike some others I could mention Mr. Dan Brown), is railing against both state oppression, right wing conspiracies, and violence against women in general. And he makes sure that the women in his novels are not merely victims or bit part players. They are centre stage at the heart of the action. And speaking of action, this final part of the spectacularly wide ranging tale is like a spider’s web – slowly building up the players and the game that they are each playing. It is not just an action packed thriller. There is certainly action but so much more than that. This is a morality tale for our times.

It is just a tragedy that we will not get to hear more of the wonderful Lisbeth Salander – computer hacker extraordinaire, heroine to rival all heroines – just don’t cross her. My kind of woman.

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