By Stieg Larsson.
Although I’ve missed the second volume in the Millennium Trilogy, there’s enough material in The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (GKHN) to reconstruct a little of The Girl who Played with Fire (GPF). That appears to be the tale of Mikael Blomkvist going after Wennerström using the information which Henrik Vanger supplied him in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (GDT). I assume that there’s a parallel plot about Lisbeth Salander tracking down her father and trying to kill him.
GKHN commences with Salander in hospital suffering from gunshot wounds while her father, whom she wounded badly, lies in another room nearby. It’s that classic trope where one of the main characters is incapacitated and in danger. I never liked such a trope the first time, and I didn’t like it any better on this occasion. Apart from that, it turns out Salander’s father is a Russian defector called Zalachenko who has been protected by a secret department inside Sweden’s secret service, Säpo. She also has a psychotic brother who can feel no pain and has imaginary demons of his own.
The problem for the Section (aka the Zalachenko Club) is that the story is going to get out and they need to take steps to prevent that. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t reckon with Mikael Blomkvist’s journalistic cunning and Salander’s hacking skills, and the self-appointed geriatric fanatics are brought to account.
Salander is also put on trial for attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms etc., but the case collapses faster than Christine O’Donnell’s hopes of a distinguished political career when Salander’s lawyer (Blomkvist’s sister) reveals that Dr Teleborian is a colossal pervert.
Meanwhile, in a different novel which somehow got merged with this one, Erika Berger has taken up a post as editor-in-chief of SMP, but everyone hates her until she’s informed that the paper’s proprietor has toilets made out of Vietnamese children (or something like that).
By the time you’ve done, you’re wishing that Larsson had signed a nine-book deal and had then left out the tedious and largely unnecessary B-plots to leave a trilogy of novels of about 200 pages each.
Blomkvist is still James Bond with a notepad, shagging every woman he meets, and still being hugely fanciable to Salander, who’s about half his age. Salander is a tiresomely petulant teenage girl. The members of the Zalachenko Club are elderly extremists who have no place in Larsson’s world.
I observe that the censor doesn’t seem to have read the book carefully because there’s at least one section promoting the virtues of дэмокрасй, and one of the characters is nicknamed (though I assume this is coincidental) Fάлuн, which also seems to have got past the inattentive defenders of the nation’s stupidity. (Again, given the level of paranoia which seems to be infecting the web from here, I’m encoding to avoid any potential bother.)
GKHN isn’t a bad read, but it does drag on and on and on, and does get quite dull in places. Too much time was wasted on the B-plot about Erika Berger, the removal of which would not be noticed. Overhyped.