kella’s CBR-III reviews 7, 8, 9 – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire & The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest – by Stieg Larson

(Hopefully the Cannonball ‘powers that be’ won’t mind a combo review! )

It has taken me a while to jump on the Lisbeth Salander bandwagon, but now that I’ve finished the trilogy, I’m not going anywhere.

These books were, for the most part, riveting and impossible to put down.  They definitely aren’t a light read, with topics spanning from murder, rape, and incest, to sex trafficking and political corruption.  There were several instances in the books that I literally cringed… but found myself unable to walk away without finding out what happened.

The first book started to read like a simple murder mystery:  rich old man hires investigative reporter to find out what happened to his niece years after her disappearance and suspected death.  But Larson doesn’t settle for a simple story.  Instead, increasingly complex characters are introduced, their relationships evolve, and he lays the groundwork for the following two books.  It’s in these books that the principle characters, particularly Lisbeth Salander (the tattooed, fire playing, nest kicker of the titles) become the story.  Salander is a truly unique character- one whom you can’t help but root for, even though you understand the frustration that the other characters feel towards her.

Being a Swedish novel originally, the books (especially the finale) are filled with historical references that made no sense to me.  People who I’m sure are notable figures in Sweden’s history are mentioned in passing, which was at times frustrating for someone who didn’t always have easy access to Wikipedia to find out why that reference was significant.  I also tended to skim the sections dealing with Swedish governmental structure; I was too eager to get back to the action of the story to wade through somewhat dry history.  I understand why it was necessary in the context of the story, and it wouldn’t prevent me from re-reading these in the future, but it was definitely not my favourite part of the series.

Overall I loved these books, and would recommend them to anyone looking for a suspenseful page-turner.

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