Stieg Larsson, the Swedish editor of the magazine Expo, died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for the award-winning Millennium trilogy of crime novels. Since then, he has become a publishing phenomenon, selling more than 27 million copies of his books. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the last in the series.
The Story: In the last pages of The Girl Who Played with Fire, Lisbeth Salander was on the brink of death. Picking up right where that novel left off, this final entry finds the steel-willed and brilliant Salander in a Swedish hospital with a bullet wound to the head, awaiting a trial for murders she did not commit as her father, her arch enemy and a former KGB spy, recovers down the hall. All is not lost, as journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to prove his friend's innocence. But he must investigate a cover-up within the Swedish government and, with Salander's help, expose the misdemeanors and abuse that almost destroyed her life.
Knopf. 576 pages. $27.95. ISBN: 9780307269997
"Larsson has produced a coup de foudre, a novel that is complex, satisfying, clever, moral. At its heart is the question of whether or not the forces trying to destroy Salander, in order to protect themselves, will triumph; whether the strained relationship between Blomkvist and Salander can be repaired; and whether or not the defence lawyer chosen to represent her--Blomkvist's sister, Gianni--will be able to produce a case." Kate Mosse
New York Times
"Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson's fierce pixie of a heroine, is one of the most original characters in a thriller to come along in a while--a gamin, Audrey Hepburn look-alike but with tattoos and piercings, the take-no-prisoners attitude of Lara Croft and the cool, unsentimental intellect of Mr. Spock. ... [Hornet's Nest] is a thoroughly gripping read that shows off the maturation of the author's storytelling talents." Michiko Kakutani
"What keeps Salander from turning into a cartoon like the Bride from Kill Bill is the unedited-documentary-footage texture of the novel's narration. It's this integration of the mundane and the mythic that enables the trilogy to hold its readers in thrall." Laura Miller
"It's a tangled plot and a pretty far-fetched premise. ... But the race to save Salander is often thrilling, especially as the conspiracy against her starts to unravel (the exquisite courtroom evisceration of a key villain is one of the series' high points)." Rob Brunner
Globe and Mail (Canada)
"One of the faults of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is that it spends far too much of its first 100 or so pages rehashing the previous two novels. ... We do need some reminding, as there are a number of complex threads involved, but a little editing would have gone a long way." Peter Robinson
San Francisco Chronicle
"Blomkvist remains too much a ‘Mary Sue,' that bane of beginning writers, a character dangerously close to wish-fulfillment for its author. ... Whether or not Larsson's trilogy will have the staying power to reward multiple readings, it is undoubtedly an extraordinary achievement for a fledgling novelist." Michael Berry
"[W]hat is surprising--or perhaps not--is that Larsson's books get worse as he goes along. ... We've come from genre-buster to posh potboiler in the space of two books."
"I love this stuff, although why, exactly, has long been something of a mystery to me," writes Laura Miller (Salon). Certainly, the series as a whole has its share of action--serial killers, sex trafficking, political conspiracy--and compelling messages about violence against women, social responsibility, and good and evil. And Salander is a compellingly abused, antisocial, and bisexual antihero. But many critics felt hard-pressed to identify why the trilogy stands out. After all, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest has its share of faults--including clichéd, workmanlike prose; tangled plots; and tedious repetition. Perhaps the Guardian sums it up: "This is a grown-up novel for grown-up readers, who want something more than a quick fix and a car chase. And it's why the Millennium trilogy is rightly a publishing phenomenon all over the world."