It seems to get in some ‘for fun’ reading time I must awaken earlier than usual. This is of course all to the good as far as Jess is concerned as she gets to go helter skelter about in the dark barking in a deep voice of a much bigger dog.
I’ve just finished Stieg Larsson’s book ‘The girl who kicked the hornets nest’. The third book in the Dragon Tattoo series. This is a book that would have different resonance in different parts of the world. To those that live in Europe, Olaf Palme PM of Sweden assassination on the last day of February in 1986 was perhaps more important than the coming down of the Berlin Wall. Mostly for its similarity to JFK and the fact that by the time the wall opened, the entire section of border was wide open in Czechoslovakia and Hungry nullifying its very reason for existence.
It is within that cold war atmosphere where some within Sweden thought Palme was a traitor that the story exists. These cohorts exist all over, they tend to come from historic privilege, now waning and find their natural home within the armed forces/security services, where they can fulminate within an atmosphere of quasi patriotism. Almost every conflict in the 20th century has it genesis such a vortex. The author uses the fears of exposure of those involved and what they did back in the cold war to create a tension. But what lifts it is the dichotomy of these now old people reacting as they would back then, all dying in one way or another but are even now in their decrepitude, incredibly dangerous.
The main characters are much the same in all the books, we have the tattooed weirdo girl Lisbeth Salander, whom you find sympathy only because she had a hellish life. Would it have killed Larsson to give her a bit of internal dialogue. He could have kept her emotionally unavailable within the story but why do so to the reader. Then Blomkvist, the Reporter. His sister the Attorney. His Editor and sometimes bed partner. The bodybuilder cop and Blomkvist current love interest. There comes a point when to keep the story flowing you cease to read the name but overlay what they do. In a way this is a shame for in the great tradition of the Greeks, mainland European novelists tend to add another layer with the characters names. You see it with English authors too but it tends to simple racism, with an us and a them. Agatha Christie tended to Ireland for her womanizing criminals while Conan Doyle didn’t go far for Moriarty.
All in all, if this was a lesser book you simply wouldn’t make the effort.
There is one thing that seemed odd. The book seems to end 50 pages before it actually does. The court case is over. Salander set free and the Secret Section exposed. She heads off to Gibraltar for a well-earned burning of the candle. But then what seems a bit of housekeeping occurs. A murderous brother of Salander whom we meet in the early part of the book, vanished. The last 50 pages are devoted to his gruesome capture.
Being male and therefore a bit OCD, the tidying up of this fellow was appreciated. In reality though the story had moved beyond him long before and this section could easily have been left out. It just seemed a coda or that irritating addendum you sometimes find tacked onto the end of a symphony just when you are expecting the taaa-daaa and girding the loins for a really big clap it picks up again.
Verdict; I would absolutely recommend this book.
By the way Larsson is dead. I just read this on the back of the dust jacket.