Recap: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third and “final” novel in the Millenium series. It picks up with the protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, being transferred to the hospital after she narrowly escapes death in the second novel. Salander spends the majority of the book in the hospital, healing and waiting to stand trial for the attempted murder of her father, Alexander Zalachenko. Nest centers on the way in which Mikael Blomkvist (a reporter, who is also a good friend and former lover of Salander’s) furthers his investigation. With his investigation also comes revelations about The Section, the group within Sweden’s Security Police, or Sapo, that has been covering up illegal activity for some 30+ years.
Analysis: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is everything a last story in a trilogy should be. It ties up loose ends, gives the reader a desirable ending, and still leaves a bit of room for growth should the author change his/her mind and decide to write more. (**In this case, Stieg Larsson wrote half of a fourth book before he died in 2004, but more on that later.)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a direct sequel to The Girl Who Played With Fire. Whereas Fire explains Salander’s background and history to the reader, Nest reveals this information to the other characters. Salander is an undeniably jaded woman, but Nest confirms that she isn’t crazy. Her innocence is proven as the complicated web of lies, cover-ups, and murders unravels.
The best part of the book is learning about the Section – its function, power, and disregard for those hurt in the crimes they work to cover up. In Fire, we learn there are a bunch of rats, but we don’t care. In Nest, however, we learn how integral the Section is to the story. And let’s be honest. Audiences love a good story about a rat getting crushed. As a reader, one becomes more caught up in this plot than the fallout of the murders that happened in the second book.
The one downfall of the novel is the access Blomkvist gains regarding the police’s murder investigation. Yes, he’s a journalist and has the ability to investigate. But as a journalist myself, I know the police would never give media the access Blomkvist receives. Though one might say it makes sense because he is a part of the story being investigated, I don’t believe he’s so involved to be allowed to sit in on private meetings among the police and the Prime Minister.
MVP: Monica Figuerola. Figuerola is introduced in this novel as a Sapo investigator, assigned to look into The Section. The Section, of course, is made up of fellow officers, putting Figuerola in a tricky position. But she does her job successfully. We also learn Figuerola is a former bodybuilder. Herein lies her purpose: she is the anti-woman – a female with a male role. She takes charge and gets results. She’s actually a parallel to Salander, but a stable one. This is why we like her. (Plus, she sleeps with Blomkvist, and we’re jealous. )
**Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004. By then, he had written 3 novels and half of a fourth. His longtime girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson, who has published her own memoir, could potentially publish the fourth. But right now, she has her own legal matters to contend with.