This book starts and finishes with some great action, including a hospital bed murder and a full-action battle between tiny Lisbeth and her gigantic brother. We also get some savvy courtroom drama toward the end. But the bulk of the book consists of strategy discussions. Police, journalists, detectives, and secret agents devise various plans, some with justice at heart, and others with evil intent. We learn the history and current operations of “the Section,” a special unit of the Swedish Secret Service with broad powers and practically no oversight, which was responsible for Lisbeth’s lifelong mistreatment.
|Lisbeth making her magic happen (as played by|
Noomi Rapace; photo from blogs.whatsontv.co.uk)
Throughout the pages, a dizzying swarm of bad players is awakened to a frenzy of schemes to take down Lisbeth. Hence the title. Throughout most of the story, Lizbeth herself is confined to a hospital bed, but even in her restricted state, she takes her own brand of action on a smuggled hand-held computer.
For some small mid-story action, Erica Berger gets a little subplot involving a stalker at her new job, and Mikael hooks up with a smart and sexy new lady friend. But mostly, the middle pages are comprised of strategy meetings, and because of this, I found the book dull compared to its predecessors.
Larsson’s writing style is consistent with the first two books ⎼ plain but effective. (The translator, Reg Keeland, is the same.) Like Dragon Tattoo and Played with Fire, there’s no profound symbolism or grand underlying meaning, but the author solidly stands on his anti-misogyny platform, bringing to light all sorts of abuses toward women, from subtle assumptions and downward glances to unspeakable violence. With the current popularity of Fifty-Shades junk fiction, Larsson’s feministic perspective is refreshing and socially important. His female characters are physically and emotionally strong and independent, but like all humans, not impervious to stress and upset.
|Stieg Larsson (photo from|
Despite the relatively lackluster plot of Hornet’s Nest, the book does conclude the series satisfactorily. The ending may feel too happily-ever-after for some readers, but I liked it. The bad guys lose, and the good guys ⎼ and girls ⎼ win. Lisbeth gets her revenge, but she gets a bit of her own comeuppance too. If you’ve already read the first two books, you’ll want to read Hornet’s Nest to wrap up the adventure. Get through the middle and pay decent attention. The end is worth the effort.