A pre-dawn book review

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.

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10 Responses to A pre-dawn book review

  1. Kimberly says:

    Yay! I’m glad you liked it. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read it and so don’t remember the ending being off. However, between the books and the movies I’m having trouble remembering what events happened in what story. But I do think that he had started a 4th book before he died which could be why it felt like it started up again. I read somewhere that his girlfriend wanted to publish it but the family was holding onto the rights.
    Oh wait! Did the ending have her chasing her brother in the warehouse and then nailing his feet to the floor? I remember that being intense. 🙂
    I think that Salander’s lack of emotional connection with anyone, including the reader, was on purpose. Her behavior makes her presumably autistic or at least somewhere on the spectrum. Which is what made her so good at her job and probably survive everything she’d been through.

    Will you read the previous 2 now?

    Just last night I finished “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman. It was fantastic! A very unique story. I’d highly recommend it too.

    • V.H says:

      Yes, she nails him to the floor with a electric nail gun. Straight down and at an angle so he couldn’t rip his foot up over the head of the nail. Larsson makes something of a point of this. And I get the autistic bit of her make-up but she has a grá for Blomkvist that is hardly touched upon.

      I have the first one too, but I started the one about the bookshop in Barcelona. It may take a week to get to them what with the speed I’m not reading these days.

      • Kimberly says:

        Ya, the first two touch on that relationship more than the last one did. I won’t give it away in case you do read the other two, but there tends to be a “been there, done that” vibe in the last one.
        Ah, Shadow of the Wind. Another good one. That was a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t know what to expect, especially having been translated from Spanish. But it’s another translation well done, in addition to being a really great story.

        • V.H says:

          As I said I have the 1st one, o I’ll be reading that one at least. I have the film too and I really liked it.

          I’m intrigued with the one I’m reading now. Barcelona was the seat of the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War and living there after ’39 was not nice. Many many went to the US, France UK and Australia. It would have been the Pittsburgh or Detroit of Spain.

      • Kimberly says:

        Argh, I keep forgetting to ask about the structure in the header photo. Looks like it’s being worked on.

        • V.H says:

          Oh, it the Rock of Cashel with the C13 Gothic Norman cathedral and a far earlier C11 round tower visible. The scaffold is over C10 Cormac’s chapel, a structure in the earlier Romanesque style. This is becoming quite interesting as it’s beginning to show frescos and paintings of the pre Great Schism church in Ireland.

  2. Ed says:

    I watched a show documenting Larsson’s brief life and death and have watched one movie on the series but have never read the books. I’ve heard they are pretty good and perhaps someday I will read them. But for now, I find more than enough in the non-fiction world to keep me entertained.

    • V.H says:

      My problem was I hadn’t read anything modern in years and I was missing out on loads of good stuff.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m very OCD and didn’t realize it was a male trait. 😉

    The Salander character was my favorite in both the books and the movies. As for the names (both character and place names)… I have this problem of needing to sound them out when reading. In this case, it proved most difficult in that they were in a language that isn’t familiar to me at all.

    • V.H says:

      Yeah, apparently a product of testosterone. It allow’s us to focus on one thing to the exclusion of the periphery also. Like not hearing a darn thing while doing a jig-saw. 🙂
      Yes the sounding is my problem too. And that’s what stops my rhythm in reading so I replace the name with job title.

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