The Girl Who Made Friends Around the World

I have not yet come up with a theory that accounts for the popularity of Lisbeth Salander – given that very few people publicly indentify themselves as feminists these days (thinking for some reason that’s all over and done with) and given that bixsexuality, hacking, and anti-social behavior are not on the Approved List of popular plot developments, not to mention that leftist crusading these days tends to be seen through a glass ironically – but she has done something that, if she actually existed, would astonish the hell out of her. She has had an incredible number of people in a great many countries fall in love with her.

Maxine sums up her reviews of the three books in one spoiler-free blog post.

Kerrie reviews Hornets’ Nest at  Mysteries in Paradise, and won’t say much for fear of spoilers (other than read them all in order) but does point out:

For me, Larsson’s women’s rights agenda was stronger in this novel than in the other two. Right from the beginning we have an image of Salander as some sort of warrior. The opening paragraphs tell us about the six hundred women who served in the American Civil War, and then later we are reminded of the Amazons, and then the women’s army that existed among the Fon of Dahomey. It is hard not to see Advokat Annika Giannini, Salander’s lawyer in this role too. She turns out to be a courtroom lion whom the proecutors severely underestimate.

The other theme that comes through strong and clear is the power of the press to make or break a government, and even more the role/duty of a journalist to seacrh out the truth.

Other assessments of the third in the trilogy:

Bernadette’s Reactions to Reading – “The book is brimming with positive female characters who can look after themselves as well as many men who go out of their way to right the wrongs they have seen done around them. . . . a complex, unpredictable book that wears its liberal heart proudly on its sleeve.”

DJ’s Krimiblog – “Larsson does not try to hide his agenda: he wants to do more than write a crime story, this time by adding short sections about amazons, women who voluntarily leave the kitchen in order to fight.”

Norm’s (aka Uriah’s) posts his final assessment at Crime Scraps, describing the complexity and sophistication of the third volume and his own journey from “skeptic to fanatic.”

At the Guardian, Roy Greenslade says that journalists love the trilogy because they are about the excitement (and the challenges) of getting the news; they’d all secretly like to be the crusading Mikael Blomqvist.

And finally, an Australian appreciation by Brian Toohey that compares the book to Henry Porter’s The Dying Light, saying both authors kick the hornets’ nest (while Toohey takes the opportunity to kick a few Australian politicians in the process). Toohey thinks there’s some truth in Larsson’s ficiton . . . and perhaps some fantasy:

Larsson, who died in 2004 before the novels were published, spent many years as a journalist observing Swedish politics at close quarters. Of course, as works of fiction the books don’t necessarily reflect political reality in Sweden. Nevertheless, some aspects of the latest novel are based on fact.

Just as in the novel, Cold War–era prime ministers allowed the Swedish intelligence services to conceal an unofficial unit that violated the civil liberties of innocent citizens in the name of national security. . . . [but considering his treatment of present-day events] it is difficult for the outsider to judge the plausibility or otherwise of Larsson’s portrayal of a prime minister and his justice minister who genuinely want to unearth wrongdoing in the security services. Similar considerations apply to the depiction of a unit that really does exist within the Security Police – the Directorate of Constitutional Protection. In Larsson’s account the unit’s staff work with unswerving dedication to ensure that their colleagues in another section are arrested on criminal charges. It is even less clear to an outsider whether Larsson is being impossibly romantic when he predicts that a huge public scandal would erupt if the prime minister failed to nail those who mistreated a fractious thirteen-year-old.

That’s an unusual perspective: that Larsson may have been too kind to public officials and been too ready to believe some of them would want to do the right thing.

Obviously I’ll have to read this book myself and see what I think.


4 thoughts on “The Girl Who Made Friends Around the World

  1. Brian Toohey is a great old warhoarse of a left-leaning political journalist – not unlike Mikael Blmokvist actually. He even used to have his own news magazine not unlike Millenium and has written several books investigating various political events. It’s quite fitting that he’d pick up on these elements of Larsson’s writing and not at all surprising that he’s cynical about any public officials doing the right thing as he’s reported on so many that have not.

  2. I found it hard when I had finished reading to put my finger on what I had actually been reading and what I liked about the trilogy. I had the impression that Larsson must have worked from a huge canvas. There was so much going on it almost reminded me of one of those Renaissance paintings where there were little stories happening all over a huge painting. This is not a trilogy with one straight story. In my first review I likened DRAGON TATTOO to a turducken. You’ll have to read my review to see what I meant. What I did feel came through very strongly in THE HORNET’S NEST was the growing tension of a net closing. As a friend of mine said after he’d finished, she sure did kick the hornet’s nest – just think of what would happen if you did that in real life!

  3. Thanks for the info about Toohey, Bernadette – the name was familiar to me, but I wasn’t sure what his usual perspective was. I suspected he was identifying with Blomqvist’s politics as well as his profession.

    Kerrie, a turducken! That’s a wonderful description of the book. (In case you don’t know – a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed into a turkey and then roasted … we had just been discussing that possibility for our Thanksgiving dinner but settled on just a roast duck.)

  4. I’m beginning to suspect that I’m more surprised by my feelings about the trilogy because I’ve now lived longer away from Sweden, and have adapted the cynical views of the British. I think back to how I felt as a teenager (Stieg Larsson was a few years older than me) and it all makes sense. I get the impression from my friends that they may live in the internet age same as me, but they still have those ‘more political and equal’ thoughts on how to live life.

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