First things first: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is unquestionably the most successful of Stieg Larsson’s three-volume Millennium series about Lisbeth Salander.
Salander, one of the most extraordinary characters ever to inhabit the printed page, is one of a large cast that includes the author’s fantasy doppelganger, the journalist Mikael Blomkvist; Mikael’s colleagues at Millennium magazine; Lisbeth’s employer and members of his staff; a hefty number of police officers; a crew of secret agents; assorted prosecutors, social workers, and attorneys; Swedish Cabinet members; and a large group of baddies, including the thugs who hang out in a motorcycle club and two members of Lisbeth’s own family.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium #3) by Stieg Larsson @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
You might think that such a motley crew of characters could never fit within the confines of a single volume, much less come across as real people. Not so here.
Well, maybe not real people. But the novel works. The suspense will raise your blood pressure. In a word, Hornet’s Nest is unputdownable.
Unlike so many of the complex, multi-character stories I find myself reading, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is easy to navigate. I rarely found myself wondering where or how a minor character had come into the story. Larsson’s writing is so vivid, and his characters so well drawn, that I was able to avoid my usual habit of searching through previous chapters to remind myself who was who.
A novel, like all of history, is a study of change. As Joseph Heller wrote, “Something happens,” and a character (or characters) change as a result. In that sense, the three books in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and ending with this long but consistently gripping novel, together constitute a single story. It is only here, in the closing sections of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, that we can see clearly the change that has been wrought in Lisbeth Salander as she passes through the trials by fire spelled out in these three engaging tales.
For additional reading
I’ve reviewed the whole series of five books written to date in the Millennium cycle at The magical Lisbeth Salander novels.
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- Top 10 mystery and thriller series;
- 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers; and
- 20 outstanding detective series from around the world.
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