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Thursday 20 Jun 2024

Millennium Trilogy: 3
Jennifer Ramirez

The third and final novel in  Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest,” continues right where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. It brings to conclusion the saga of Lisbeth Salander and the  journalist Mikael Blomkvist.

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” starts out straight after the spectacular ending of “The Girl Who Played with Fire.”  Lisbeth Salander, the center of Larsson’s two preceding books, lies in critical condition, with a bullet injury to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city clinic. She is plotting her revenge - against the person who tried to kill her, and against the government organizations that very nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a uncomplicated campaign. Lisbeth is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release.

The very first half of the book is concerned with Salander's healing. She is isolated in a hospital bedroom and knows her father, who still wants to kill her, is in a room just along the corridor - even though that changes in spectacular fashion. There is a paucity of dramatic event in the first part of this third episode. Much of the plot is taken up with conferences or meetings or phone calls in which the various figures discuss how we got where we are. It becomes clear that events from Salander's terrible past, her medical diagnosis as mentally ill, the physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her state-appointed guardian - have been orchestrated by dark forces at the very heart of Swedish society.

In order to become successful with the latter, Lisbeth will need the help of reporter Mikael Blomkvist. At the same time, He gets out from under arrest, and the police officers begin to comprehend that Ronald Niedermann, son of Alexander and half-brother of Lisbeth, is guilty of the murders they thought Salander of committing.

He's also guilty of many others. Niedermann runs away by killing one cop, wounding another, and kidnapping a woman called Anita Kaspersson. He fades away. Blomkvist convinces his sister, Annika Giannini, to be Salander's lawyer, if Salander prefers her to be. When Salander regains awareness, she's not a satisfied camper. Mostly, she wants to eliminate Alexander once and for all.

The book takes a highly political bent, with the major storyline concerning corruption deep inside the Swedish government, and a multiagency task force that's trying to root it out. In The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest  Lisbeth serves as an allegory for Sweden itself; both the woman and the nation have been tricked over many decades by top secret allegiances of people bound together by delusions and evil impulses.

Just as the young Lisbeth is mistakenly diagnosed with mental illness and incarcerated in an isolation cell, so the young Swedish democracy is tricked by individuals whose actions can only be explained by Mikael as being like those who have a mental illness and have separated themselves from typical society. Mikael is as much driven by his journalistic, crusading need to reveal political crime as his friendship and gratitude to Lisbeth force him to expose the corruption that is continuing to threaten her by this coalition of "men who hate women." 

There are definitely holes in the storyline. One obvious weakness is that we never know why Zalachenko was so beneficial to the SSA, and why he continued to be so uniquely important for so long after he defected.

We learn little of his criminal empire. Lisbeth, the very core of the series, plays a unaggressive role for almost all of the book. Some storyline lines, for instance the police search for the cop-killer Niedermann, are never developed.

Side characters are tidied up, such as Lisbeth's inhuman brother, the mammoth Niedermann, who can not feel pain. If there's anything to complain about it's that Blomqvist comes off as too excellent, so concerned with civil liberties and injustice that he can't even stop for a dirty joke. Then there's that pacing with the Secret Service.

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest” is a appropriate end to the Millennium series, but I was left disappointed when I finished, both in the novel itself, and in the fact that the last words we have from Larsson leave me seeking much more . For those of you who have not read the very first two volumes of this trilogy, I suggest you to start on Volume one and move forward.

The characters are so complicated and real that an realizing of their background seems to me to be a must. The first two books set up the reader for this perfectly clever conclusion. The story of good versus evil is one that is a history in time, and Stieg Larsson has given us a treat to savour.

Click to read the review of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" or "The Girl Who Played with Fire," by Jennifer Ramirez.

Jennifer Ramirez, known as Jenny, has reviewed and edited for 5+ years. Originally from Toronto, she grew up performing and competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Jenny enjoys reviewing movies, books and music albums. She describes herself as funny and righteous, with a 'go that extra mile' attitude. Her philosophy is quite simple: try to live life to the fullest Jenny writes that hr passion is books. She reads and reviews current and back-list literary fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, occasionally science fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She also loves music. She's a huge fan of The Maine and All Time Low! Joy is her favorite word and creativity is something she can't live without.

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