The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the much-anticipated final instalment of Swedish writer Stiegg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. The weekend it was published it was already sat on my bookshelf (having pre-ordered it) and I came across two reviews of it. The first was a panel of reviewers on Radio 4 (I think it might have been Front Row) and all them absolutely hated the novel, describing it as slow, turgid, overwritten, unbelievable, etc. They speculated whether Larsson had had time to edit it properly before his untimely and sudden death. Of course, he had – Larsson died soon after this final volume was published. The second review was by Nick Cohen in The Observer, a fan of the first two books in the series and equally enthusiastic about this one too.
So, having enjoyed the first two novels, I started the third with a certain degree of trepidation. The novel begins where the second book ended with the young Elisabeth Salander in hospital recovering from gunshot wounds. I needn’t have worried – I found the novel to be a fitting ending to the trilogy. Once again it is a narrative whose complex plot winds around political intrigue, organised crime and espionage. Of course, it is rather rather unbelievable at times, but it is certainly not slow-paced.
Larsson no doubt saw himself writing in the same tradition as Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (who also died prematurely shortly after completed the last planned novel in the Martin Beck series), a left-wing journalist using the crime fiction genre to expose the contradictions, injustices and outrages in a society that is often held up as an example of a successful librael social democracy.
As for the reviewers, I agreed with Nick Cohen and I came to the conclusion that the worthy people on Radio 4 were literary snobs who neither liked nor generally read crime fiction.