I just finished reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson, the final volume of the Millennium trilogy. What began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and continued with The Girl Who Played With Fire, this final novel is a thrilling satisfying conclusion to wonderfully sophisticated series centering around the intriguing Lisbeth Salander. How rare for a novelist to produce a body of work where each book adds to the others and satiates as you proceed. Larsson elevates crime literature into a realm of larger ideas. Although some of the plotlines are a bit far-fetched and coincidence rears its head too often, his characters are cleverly original and do hold our attention. And his women are particularly strong.

Salander, the punkette with a touch of Asperger’s, is one of the most unique heroines in modern literature. Socially awkward yet physically striking with her tattoos and piercings, she’s a hacker extraordinaire with a photographic memory and a reprehensible abusive past. Set in Sweden, Larsson explores a dark underbelly of corruption, sex-trafficking and serial murder. It’s not the Sweden that we imagine and certainly not the one that I experienced when I lived there in the 1970s before moving to Boston. I had left the kibbutz and flew to Stockholm to live with a Swedish family for a spring/summer. They secured a job for me at the headquarters of the Department of Public Buildings, which basically consisted of picking up discarded packing boxes as a move into the new main facility had recently begun. For lunch a couple of co-workers and I would wander down to the main square to smoke hashish. The perfect summer job during the season where the sun barely sets, in a country that provides for its citizens and where it was uncommonly safe. Many Swedes considered the US to be a much too dangerous place to live, including a woman with whom I was in love at the time but who was actually too afraid to travel with me to the US.

Unfortunately, if you are one of the many Larsson fans in the US you will have to wait until the end of May to acquire a copy locally of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest as the publisher has seen fit to only publish it in the rest of the world! I bought mine through Amazon UK. Such arrogance will only come back to haunt the book publishing industry as it has the music industry. Dismal attempts to desperately control distribution only shows contempt for the consumer in the 21st century. We want it when we want it, where we want it and how we want it. If not, we’ll take it.

Sadly the Lisbeth Salander saga has come to an end. Stieg Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50 having delivered the manuscripts for this trilogy.


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