Tag: Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

July 25th, 2010 — 2:31am

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third of a trilogy of books written by Mr. Larsson and in my opinion the best of the trio. It is a continuation of the first two books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. You will best appreciate it if you have read the others and be familiar with the main characters and the ongoing storyline.  However, this last book is the one to read if you only reading one, as there is an attempt to summarize some of the previous plots but this will not capture all the intrigue of the earlier books. In the third book there are some new nefarious villains and lots of police types, some good and some not so good. There is a complicated plot, several murders and a great courtroom scene. The reader learns about Sapo, a secret law enforcement agency and an ultra secret component of that agency, as well as a special government agency mandated to prosecute threats to the Swedish constitution. It all seems unfamiliar but ultimately understandable as the plot unfolds. It might be the same if a non-American reader were reading a novel with a convoluted plot, which involved the FBI, secret components within the CIA and actions by the Attorney General of the United States. We would understand the organizations, might believe that they could do secret horrific things depicted in the book but yet also realize that we are most probably dealing with the imagination of the author.

One of the main characters is Mikael Blomkvist a crusading journalist who was an editor and one of the founders of the magazine Millennium with whom the author perhaps identified. An Internet search about real life author Stieg Larsson reveals that he was a journalist who founded the Swedish magazine Expo and was a life time opponent of fascists, neo Nazis and the extreme right wing in Sweden. He gave lectures about right wing extremists at Scotland Yard and lived under constant threat from right wing violence. When neo-Nazis murdered a labor-union leader in his home in 1999 in Sweden, the police discovered photos of and information about Larsson and his lifetime companion Eva Garbrielson in the murderer’s apartment. It was reported that the reason Larsson and Garbrielson never married or registered as a domestic couple was because they would have to officially report their address and might be endangered by doing so Larsson also wrote a book for the Swedish Union of Journalists of instructions on how journalists should respond to threats. It is easy to see that many of the experiences Mikael Blomkvist in Larsson’s novel could have come from the author’s experience or concern’s about what could really happen to a crusading journalist.  Another reason I suspect Larsson identified with his character of Blomkvist and might have wanted to be like him, because he is depicted as a very smart cool guy with the highest journalist ethics. Also, quite a few of the women characters in this book and the previous two were very attracted to him and ended up in bed with him.

While not the  main focus of the book, there are clear themes of sexual freedom  and feminism  which reflect the more openness in Sweden in dealing with all  aspects of these issues. Berger an important woman editor in the book is very comfortable having a sexual relationship with Blomkvist although she is happily married with a very good sexual relationship with her husband who accepts her attraction and frequent beddings with her fellow journalist. A “muscular” but very attractive policewoman is an important lover of Blomkvist. There are descriptions of people comfortably in lesbian, gay and threesome relationships, which come up as side issues although not driving the story. Trafficking in young girls was an important part of the plot of the second book and derivatives of this situation continue into the final book of the trilogy. The “Girl” is Lisabeth, is a thin small boned young women, who has been sexually abused, is bisexual but yet constantly overcomes powerful men by her brain and her physical prowess. This is a young woman triumphing over her own abuse, which is a victory for herself, all women and obviously for a better society.

Whether it is the characters themselves, the enormity of the plot or the complicated mysteries that need to be solved by the police and the journalists, Stieg Larsson has captured the imagination of more than 20 million readers in 41 countries. In 2008 he was the second best selling author in the world. His untimely death by a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 50, before any of his novels were published, robbed the world of a talented author. Although he may further live on through his work, as I understand that there were some unpublished, unfinished manuscripts in his computer when he died, which might have the making of at least one novel and maybe more.

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The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

July 16th, 2010 — 2:53am

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson 

The Girl Who Played With FireThis is the second of three mystery novels written by Stieg Larsson who presented them to his publisher  shortly before he died in 2004. It’s success in sales is no doubt at least in part due to the ride on the coattails of the first published novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo although in my opinion it is not as crisp and gripping as the first novel. Since it was originally written in  the author’s native language  many names of characters and places are in Swedish which requires some concentration to keep track and is a distraction. It also seems to be a little more slow moving than the earlier story. The author takes time to describe details of things which ultimately don’t seem to make a difference to the plot or the movement of the story such as the exact layout of a street or a room of a house. However there is also a great deal of page turning suspense.

The story continues where the first novel left off with a main focus on the two main characters Mikael Bloomkvist a journalist and “the girl” Lisapeth Salander. The journalist is involved in a plan to publish an expose, which came his way about a sexual trafficking in young girls, which involved politicians and police among others. There are multiple murders and “ the girl” becomes centrally involved in this situation.. The plot and the developing murder mysteries that develop are quite original and involve Mikael and Lisapeth as well as a new group of police and bad guys. More than a few times the plot is moved along by a coincidence such as one character who happened to be visiting someone  when he heard one side of a phone call which was led to important developments. There was another instance when one character on an unexplained impulse picked up another character’s cell phone that was on the desk when he stepped out of the room and detected a phone call that he had made at a particular time which provided key information. These literary devices would seem to be short cuts that indicate some weaker writing than the first novels. Some of the imagery in the book effectively conjures up some well  known scenes in popular movies of men who are in humanly strong  and one scene where a character arises after almost certain death and burial.

In the end it is Lisapeth Salander who is the main focus of the story. She is a fascinating character who is not quite a lesbian although she comfortably has sex with women, not quite autistic or mentally ill  although she grew up with few friends, rarely cracks a smile and was put away in school for disturbed children as a youngster, not at all solidly built with a very thin child like build although she physically beat up several powerful men. She  is one of the world’s best computer hackers with a photographic memory who will never forget a detail that she reads and will never forget any one who mistreats her or people that she actually cares about.

I look forward to reading about her in the third and final novel. I also will be very interested to see how she is depicted and who will play her  in the series of movies based on these novels which are out now.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

July 9th, 2010 — 2:51am

Buy now on Amazon: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson, the author, died in 2004 shortly after delivering to his publisher the manuscripts for this book (originally in Swedish of course) and two novels he subsequently wrote which I have not yet read. I also have not yet seen the Swedish movie of this story. I also understand there is an English movie soon to be released. The plot is basically a mystery that needs to be solved. One of the main protagonists of the novel is Mikael Bloomkvist, Swedish financial journalist, who as we meet him has just been convicted of libel for trying to expose a wealthy industrialist for his shady corrupt dealings. He thought that he had the evidence to expose him but he couldn’t produce it. His notoriety leads him to the Vanger family and sets him on his quest to solve a mystery, which involves a kidnapping, and much more. As the story develops there are lots of members of this family of whom initially it is a little hard to keep track. Many of the names and places and even small locations are Swedish names, which also threw me for a small loop. However, it really doesn’t distract from the story and Bloomkvist’s curiosity about this mystery. There are surprises with twists and turns, which are expected and appreciated in this genre. It is also interesting to reflect on the sexual mores of the country where the story takes place in that heterosexual casual sex among good friends without a romantic relationship is easily accepted. The story also encounters some perverted crimes that are spelled out in great detail. The author obviously either had a very vivid imagination or sadly enough he could have just taken these descriptions from the periodic reports of such crimes that are reported in the media. By far the most interesting character in the book is the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, who as a youth is shown to have had significant mental problems somewhere between being the product of a deprived childhood with sexual abuse and someone being on the autism spectrum. Now as a young woman she clearly has residual personality issues but is able to use her photographic memory and computer skills to play an important role in the solving of the mystery. She also is presented as an intriguing woman to some of the men in the story as well as to the readers. I understand that both she and the journalist will appear in the subsequent novels.  Larsson who himself was magazine editor with particular politically leanings did seem to have a good feel for the subject of his novel and wrote in an authentic manner. This was a very good read and I look forward to his subsequent books.

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