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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Title: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 
Author: Larsson, Stieg 
Released: 2010-05-01 
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - US 
ISBN: 9780307269997 
Format: Hardcover 
Last Updated: 2017-05-31 
Rating: 1 
Pages: 563 
The stunning third and final novel in Stieg Larsson's internationally best-selling trilogy

Lisbeth Salander-the heart of Larsson's two previous novels-lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She's fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge-against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for his Millennium novels, a trilogy of thrillers that became international bestsellers.

Editorial Reviews -

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy Series #3)

The Barnes & Noble Review
From Sarah Weinman's "THE CRIMINALIST" column on The Barnes & Noble Review

By now, the narrative of Stieg Larsson is well-established to the point of near-myth. So it goes with a bona fide cultural phenomenon whose creator did not live to see the truly global success of the Millennium Trilogy. The surrounding legal drama between Larsson's longtime partner and family owing to his lack of a will, the excellent movie adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the glut of articles about the Nordic crime boom, and the new and forthcoming release of several biographies all underscore and obfuscate the bottom line: these three books resonate for millions of readers as few thrillers do. They -- like me -- are so hooked that the prospect of an end to the series produces low-to-mid-range frustration. To misquote Samuel Beckett, there can't be more. There must be more. There is no more.

The best way to explain this inevitable reaction is to start with the last hundred or so pages of The Girl Who Kicks the Hornet's Nest, which finally arrives on American soil. Lisbeth Salander, having endured all manner of violence, humiliation, suffering, and degradation with revenge-soaked stoicism for just over half of her twenty-seven years on earth, is on trial for trying to kill her father, the Russian defector and Swedish national security nightmare Alexander Zalachenko. Her solicitor is Annika Gianinni, a feminist crusader and sister to the trilogy's other main protagonist, Mikael Blomqvist. They face a cavalry of aging men desperate to hang on to their powerful positions and crush Salander's spirit through every conspiratorial means possible, from declarations of mental incapacitation to trumped-up murder charges that can't quite stick (so attempted murder will have to suffice.)

The outcome is obvious to the reader, because Larsson, throughout the series, has conformed to the mystery novel's chief structure: blinding chaos is restored to natural order, with some obligatory loose strands left to dangle for the next book. But what he has also done, brilliantly, is to use the chaos/order dichotomy as a means of mining more ancient archetypes revolving around catharsis. Salander is any mythical or larger-than-life character you want her to be, from Diana the Huntress to females of Amazonian glory to Boadicea to Pippi Longstocking to Mallory, Carol O'Connell's glorious sociopathic heroine. She's the Bad Girl because others say she is, but really her misfit ways and fluid sexuality simply are, free from societal norms and judgments.

So -- and I guess this counts as a spoiler -- Salander prevails. But we've known she would from the moment she first appeared in her former boss's office, slapping down the dossier she compiled on Blomqvist and blithely commenting that he must have been set up by the financier, Wennerström -- the villain eventually brought down through a mix of hackery and trickery by Salander and Blomqvist. But the breathtaking glory of those final sections of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the systematic thoroughness of Salander's triumph.

Men will continue to hate women, and to box them in and shut them down; the rich will hoard their wealth and the poor will be trapped. But the events chronicled in those hundred pages, the culmination of the several hundred thousand words preceding, imagine a small but vital change to the game. If one elfin, multi-tattooed, take-no-prisoners, socially withdrawn young woman can beat the system -- definitively and with several blows struck in the name of some turbo-charged form of Girl Power -- surely millions of others facing more mundane but more devastating insults and injustices can also prevail?

But enough about the end. Some justice must be done on the book's entirety, after all, and why The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest caps the trilogy so well. First off is Larsson's knack for building, maintaining, and then explosively increasing the momentum even as he barrels through what could be some turgid expository dumps. Did we need to know every little bit of backstory on peripheral members of the so-called "Zalachenko Club" responsible for circumventing the constitution and screwing over Salander to a life under the government's thumb? No, but just when one might throw up one's hands, along comes a vital chess move through the byzantine plot that might come in handy later on. And like his colleague in blockbusters, Dan Brown, Larsson's enthusiasm for the information he spills out, be it on the annals of his country's darkest political crimes or the specs of the computer Salander works with, is infectious. Did you know how cool this is? he asks. We did not, but now we do -- and yeah, it is pretty cool.

That leads into the second point: the Millennium Trilogy is mecca for the twin nerdy pursuits of journalism and technology. Larsson idealized journalism too much and spent too little on getting the inner workings of computer hacking right, but the net effect in both cases is that the 2010's reality super-imposes itself on the 2003-2005 world depicted in the books. The effects of that juxtaposition are somewhat different. With respect to journalism, bloggers toiling at pennies per post if they are lucky after being downsized from cushier newspaper and magazine jobs look to Millennium (Blomqvist's baby) and SMP (where his partner Erika migrates to save a sinking ship) as the personification of the "good old days," when dogged investigation and commitment to quality, not page views, was rewarded most.

Technology is another story. Gadgets date quickly, and Salander's reliance on a Palm Tungsten 3T to communicate with Blomqvist in stealth while supposedly sequestered from the world in a hospital shoehorns the action to late 2004/early 2005. Would the plot have been poleaxed by the presence of a smartphone, or by the likelihood of incriminating videos ending up on YouTube with a single click? Perhaps, but with recent privacy-busting actions by the post-Larsson behemoth Facebook (or Google, hardly as formidable then as it is now) and surveillance-happy governments in all likely and unlikely corners, I reckon Larsson might have figured out additional ways around the plausibility problem -- or blithely ignored them altogether since truth trumps fiction for bizarreness.

Such considerations remind one that these books, with all their violence and modern accoutrements, are wonderfully old-fashioned. Salander spends the bulk of Hornet's Nest trapped in a hospital bed, in jail, or in a stifling room answering to so-called crimes or watching, impassively, as her lawyer annihilates former tormentors and exposes their own perversions. And yet she is still the most active investigator of the truth in the story, able to accomplish what experienced journalists or government officials cannot. Those key figures also must use their wits -- as well as some well-placed information here and there, illegally obtained or not -- and deduce the impossible truth of Salander's victimhood from more plausible but flat wrong suppositions of guilt. Blomqvist may get much more action than his forefather in crime, Sherlock Holmes, but the principles are much the same.

Finally, to quote Blomqvist, "when it comes down to it, this story is not primarily about spies and secret government agencies; it's about violence against women, and those who enable it." Sex, in other words, is the big red herring, and I think that's why Larsson had the license to stretch the boundaries a bit. Because it doesn't matter if Blomqvist has women constantly flocking to him (in Hornet's Nest the quite unnecessary amorous episodes feature the near-Olympian turned secret agent Monika Figuerola), or if his long-running relationship with the married Berger is the best depiction of polyamory in fiction I've read, or if Salander sleeps with both men and women. Sex is private, borne out of love or desire or other more complicated emotions. Violence, be it body blows or brutal rape, is a public problem to be aired out so as to eradicate it for good.

Such was Larsson's hope, anyway. He wouldn't have lived to see the end of violence against women even if he was still alive today with thirty more years to go. But the three finished novels he left behind attest to idealism on many fronts: that journalism was a social service, that technology was a positive force for good, and that violence was a scourge both could vanquish. We're so far away from these goals that to read about them in the form of three supremely entertaining thrillers is escapism and catharsis of the highest order. And each subsequent generation will get sucked into Larsson's world anew, ready to fight alongside Blomqvist and Salander.

From Barnes & Noble
This novel not only puts the cap on the most eagerly read trilogy in years; the sequel to The Girl Who Played With Fire marks the completion of its Swedish author's career: Stieg Larsson died at the age of fifty in 2004. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is, however, too exciting and too adept to be read simply as a major author's memorial. From its onset, with "avenging angel" protagonist Lisbeth Salander lying in intensive care, this fiction pulses forward. One British critic called it "intricately plotted, lavishly detailed but written with a breakneck pace and verve...a tantalizing double finale-first idyllic, then frenetic."

From the Publisher
The stunning third and final novel in Stieg Larsson's internationally best-selling trilogy

Lisbeth Salander-the heart of Larsson's two previous novels-lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She's fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge-against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
...a thoroughly gripping read that shows off the maturation of the author's storytelling talents...Larsson effortlessly constructs an immensely complicated story line that owes less to the Silence of the Lambs horror genre than to something by John le Carré...Cutting nimbly from one story line to another, Larsson does an expert job of pumping up suspense while credibly evoking the disparate worlds his characters inhabit...

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson
Only now, with the publication of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third novel in the late Stieg Larsson's immensely popular Millennium trilogy, can we fully appreciate the Swedish writer's achievement. The trilogy ranks among those novels that expand the horizons of popular fiction...the novel fully lives up to the excellence of the previous two and...brings the saga to a satisfactory conclusion.

Publishers Weekly
The exhilarating conclusion to bestseller Larsson's Millennium trilogy (after The Girl Who Played with Fire) finds Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant computer hacker who was shot in the head in the final pages of Fire, alive, though still the prime suspect in three murders in Stockholm. While she convalesces under armed guard, journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to unravel the decades-old coverup surrounding the man who shot Salander: her father, Alexander Zalachenko, a Soviet intelligence defector and longtime secret asset to Säpo, Sweden's security police. Estranged throughout Fire, Blomkvist and Salander communicate primarily online, but their lack of physical interaction in no way diminishes the intensity of their unconventional relationship. Though Larsson (1954-2004) tends toward narrative excess, his was an undeniably powerful voice in crime fiction that will be sorely missed. 500,000 first printing. (May)

The Economist
Larsson s vivid characters, the depth of the detail across the three books, the powerfully imaginative plot, and the sheer verve of the writing make the trilogy a masterpiece of its genre.

Alan Cheuse - Chicago Tribune
It s over! And I feel the same sense of pleasure and loss that I did when I watched the finale of 'The Sopranos' and the last episodes of 'Battlestar Galactica' . . . Salander is, I promise, someone you will never forget . . . Anyone who enjoys grounding their imaginations in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of exciting pages about the way we live now ought to take advantage of this trilogy.

Times (UK)
Larsson s work is original, inventive, shocking, disturbing, and challenging . . . His novels have brought a much needed freshness into the world of crime fiction.

There are few characters as formidable as Lisbeth Salander in contemporary fiction of any kind . . . She dominates the stage like Lear . . . She will be sorely missed.

A heart-stopping showdown showcases one of crime fiction s most unforgettable characters and cements Larsson s rep as one of its most passionate and original voices.

Larsson has produced a coup de foudre, a novel that is complex, satisfying, clever, moral . . . This is a grown-up novel for grown-up readers, who want something more than a quick fix and a car chase. And it's why the Millennium trilogy is rightly a publishing phenomenon all over the world.

David Kamp - The New York Times Book Review
Larsson was a cerebral, high-minded activist and self-proclaimed feminist who happened to have a God-given gift for pulse-racing narrative. It's this offbeat combination of attributes-imagine if John Grisham had prefaced his writing career not by practicing law in Mississippi but by heading up the Stockholm office of Amnesty International-that has made the series such a sui generis smash...for fans of the first two books, there are plenty of the Larssonian hallmarks they have come to love: the rough justice meted out by Salander to her enemies; the strong, successful female characters, like Blomkvist's lawyer sister, Annika Giannini, and Millennium's editor in chief, Erika Berger; and the characters' acutely Swedish, acutely relaxed attitude toward sex and sexuality.

The literary equivalent of a caffeine rush . . . Larsson was one of those rare writers who could keep you up until 3 a.m. and then make you want to rush home the next night to do it again . . . Larsson is something like John Grisham [but] Larsson held an extra ace: the creation of Salander.

Kirkus Reviews
Lisbeth Salander is in big trouble. Again. In the third installment of the late journalist Larsson's unpretty expose of all that is rotten in Sweden (The Girl Who Played with Fire, 2009, etc.), Lisbeth meets her father, who, we learned a couple of books back, is not just her sire but also her mortal enemy. Pater shares her sentiments, so much so that, at the beginning of this trilogy-closer-though there's talk that a fourth Salander novel has been found on Larsson's laptop and is being squabbled over in lawyers' offices-he's apparently tried to exterminate the fruit of his loins. Being the resourceful lass that she is, Lisbeth rises from the grave to take her vengeance. Or, as longtime Larsson hero/alter ego Mikael Blomkvist tells us, she somehow managed to "get back to the farm and swung an axe into Zalachenko's skull." Adds Blomkvist, helpfully, "She can be a moody bitch." So she can, but that's the manner of avenging angels, and Lisbeth has lots of avenging to do. She also has lots of help. Blomkvist, a little mystified as always, runs on the sidelines along with girlfriend and publisher Erika Berger, while some favorite figures from the first installment, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, return to do their bit, among them fellow uberhacker Plague, who still hasn't taken a shower nearly 1,000 pages later. There are some new or hitherto minor players along for the ride, including another Zalachenko creation, a German very-bad-guy named Niedermann, who covers his tracks pretty well. Writes Larsson, "The problem with Niedermann was that he had no friends, no girlfriend and no listed cell phone, and he had never been in prison," which makes life difficult even for a master tracker-downer such as Lisbeth-whom, unhappily, Niedermann is trying to do in as well. It's a delicious mayhem, where no man is quite good and no rich person has the slightest chance of entering the kingdom of heaven. Oh, there are lots of very bad bikers, too. Patented Larsson, meaning fast-paced enough to make those Jason Bourne films seem like Regency dramas. First printing of 500,000