Monday, July 12, 2010

10.21 The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest (2007) by Stieg Larsson
Kindle edition, 602 p.

Yes, yes, the worldwide phenomenon that is me reading the Girl With books has finally ended (although I have still yet to see the last two movies). The series is all wrapped up and the author is dead so I expect over the next year we'll see a gradual fading out of interest in northern European crime fiction. I'm glad to see the love being given out to fine crime writers like Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo even though it's all in search of the next Larsson.

Who is really to say why these set of book have become as insanely popular as they have. They are certainly not the best crime fiction ever written nor even the best European book out there. Like Harry Potter, these fiction memes seem to take on a life of their own. A certain initial push and suddenly the publishers market them everywhere. I guess that other than having died Larsson could have ended up like all the other "airport authors" out there (read:Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham or Stephen King).

I mention King because I think that Larsson and him (and probably the others) have hit upon a certain formula that gives these books their immense readability. There always seems to be a sense in the middle portion of the book of powerful evil forces arrayed against the hero(s). We the reader know that they will be overcome but there is just enough doubt that we keep avidly reading on to see how it will be done.

In Hornets Nest we essentially work through the aftermath of the conclusion of the previous novel. Salander is hospitalized and Blomkvist is back at the magazine Millennium. The dark forces embedded within the Swedish secret service determine that she should never be allowed to tell the truth about what happened with her father, the Soviet defector. Drama ensues on many fronts with various subplots dropping in here and there.

I know I sound flip but the plot at times felt way too over-plotted. Every loose end seemed to intertwine with another and be brought to a satisfying conclusion at the end. Nothing was left ragged or interestingly unsaid. Despite that criticism I think the books were fairly well written and this last one did not go so insanely over the top as the previous.

For anyone who has actually read these books and is reading this blog I direct you to this short piece from the New Yorker which hilariously cuts the books down to size. Perfect.


Redwing said...

Well, I haven't read these books, probably for the same reason I never tapped the Harry Potter books: the masses of masses reading them...and now that I've read your review I'm less inclined to read them. I feel like you have the feeling that I had after I read the Dan Brown book - kind of flat and wondering what all the noise was about.

Lantzvillager said...

I don't mean to sound entirely negative. They are immensely readable books and certainly much much better than Dan Brown. More along the lines of Robert Ludlum or Len Deighton.