There are many downsides of being ill, obviously, one of them being an inability to drive the snowy miles required to the North East to celebrate a much loved friend’s 30th Birthday. In fact, the snow which prevented our jaunt to Newcastle was something of a God send as I have been quite a poorly young lady these past few days. But a sliver lining to lying beneath several blankets all weekend is that it provided plenty reading time.
I was able to dedicate my time to finishing the monster that was Steig Larsson’s final instalment of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. I was a little daunted to be faced with nearly 750 pages – even as an adult, large books make me feel horribly inadequate. Had this been his first book, there is every chance that I would not have attempted it, but needing to know, quite desperately, how the Salander story concluded gave me no other option. So a couple of weeks ago I took a deep breath and tentatively opened those first pages.
Yet again this book did not disappoint. All ends were tied together neatly in the very typical Larsson style but not without a few more twists, turns and intrigues thrown in for good measure. Blomkvist and Salander etal not only manage to expose the cruelty befallen our unlikely heroine, but blow great gaping holes in covert operations, deep within the Government’s secret police.
When Blomkvist decides to take someone down, my word he doesn’t hold back. The righting of so many wrongs from Lisbeth’s past has become something of an obsession for our investigative journalist, the fact that he has produced yet another ground breaking exposé seems to be merely a side advantage. But it has not been without threat to his own life and those of people he cares for. Hornet’s Nest has plenty to keep you reading; murder, assassinations, government plots, hit men, suicide, shoot outs, giant women-beating freaks, conspiracy, stalkers, sex, drugs but not so much rock and roll. It is also a realistic suggestion that the dark and seedy waves of life may lap higher up the power chains than we would feel comfortable with.
There is of course the maintained thread of how women and the vulnerable are perceived and treated in society. This is important, but I don’t wish to dwell on the matter. I often believe that reviews which deconstruct the layers and ‘meaning’ to a writer’s work can ruin a damn good read. Obviously there are social and cultural remarks to be made on such a book, but why weigh down brilliant writing with this kind of analysis? No, I shall leave those comments to people who are more suited to the role and those who see this as fundamental to their enjoyment. For me the enjoyment comes from experiencing a beautifully written narrative brought to life in such a dramatic way.
Personally though, as much as I have enjoyed the book, I feel it is the weaker of the three. This is possibly because the intrigue is now over. There is nothing left to ponder and puzzle. You are given all the answers – which in itself is quite impressive considering the tidal waves of detail you are given throughout the trilogy. There is also not as much darkness as with the previous two due to merely reflecting on the harrowing events of the past. But still, a book which deserves your time and respect. Larsson never really knew what he created, but we have that opportunity. Don’t waste it.
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And now for something completely different. This week, I shall be mostly reading At The Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper.