The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third book in Stieg Larsson’s enormously popular Millennium Trilogy. I didn’t think this installment would eclipse The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire in my rather narrow minded affections, but I am now thrilled to admit I was wrong.

In this culmination of the series, we find our unlikely computer hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander slowly recovering from the life threatening wounds inflicted by her Russian defector father (one incredibly nasty dude) and her overgrown, mentally underdeveloped murdering half-brother. Salander is also under arrest for various crimes – and as we know, committed in self-defense.  However, conviction on all counts or at the very least, another long stint on the psych ward is guaranteed as long as dark forces are allowed to labor behind the scenes.

Throughout the book, the author deliberately and in great detail, shines an unrelenting light on these forces. In the process, the reader learns a whole lot about Swedish secret police, ongoing criminal investigations, cut throat politics and investigative publishing. Mr. Larsson is a master at making this dissection breathe life with rich, easy to digest explanations and characters that literally leap off the page. It should be noted that this English translation is  done so well, nary a seam is visible.

Of course, crusading journalist and busy ladies’ man Mikael Blomkvist is back and plays an important role in the defense of Salander. But this story, as well as The Girl Who Played with Fire, belongs totally to Lisbeth.

If you haven’t read the trilogy, you absolutely should. No, make that you absolutely must. If you haven’t seen the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, starring Michael Nyquist and Noomi Rapace, you should (must) do that too. Unfortunately, Mr. Larsson did not live to see the fruit of his efforts, but how lucky we are that he left such a brilliant legacy.

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