reviews and Hitchens on Larsson

Rhapsody in Books reviews The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and gives it high marks as the best of the trilogy – and gives it a thematic tag: women warriors (which struck me as interesting right after reading a recent installment of Unshelved which is about a book of women warriors who are kind of scary but can provide a leadership lesson of sorts …)

Peter reviews Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia, which he considers “the best novel so far in one of the best modern crime fiction series. A lovely book.”

Maxine’s review of Gunnar Staalesen’s The Consorts of Death has appeared at Eurocrime and says that, though most of the books in the series have not been translated and there are huge gaps between the volumes available in English, this is a fitting introduction to the main character, Varg Veum, since it provides his back story.

Norm has finished reading Hornets’ Nest and has plenty to say about the book and the entire trilogy.

And just as Stieg Larsson’s books are cropping up on “best of” lists, Christopher Hitchens offers a substantial appreciation (if that’s what it is … you can never quite tell with Hitchens) of Stieg Larsson’s Millennnium Trilogy, its author, and the neo-fascist movement in Sweden in the page of Vanity Fair. No, this Sweden is not the pacific and “herbivore” nation we imagine. And these stories are not heroic sagas, but modern and bleak.

Larsson is very much of our own time, setting himself to confront questions such as immigration, “gender,” white-collar crime, and, above all, the Internet. The plot of his first volume does involve a sort of excursion into antiquity—into the book of Leviticus, to be exact—but this is only for the purpose of encrypting a “Bible code.” And he is quite deliberately unromantic, giving us shopping lists, street directions, menus, and other details—often with their Swedish names—in full. The villains are evil, all right, but very stupid and self-thwartingly prone to spend more time (this always irritates me) telling their victims what they will do to them than actually doing it. There is much sex but absolutely no love, a great deal of violence but zero heroism. . . .  Bleakness is all. That could even be the secret—the emotionless efficiency of Swedish technology, paradoxically combined with the wicked allure of the pitiless elfin avenger, plus a dash of paranoia surrounding the author’s demise. If Larsson had died as a brave martyr to a cause, it would have been strangely out of keeping; it’s actually more satisfying that he succumbed to the natural causes that are symptoms of modern life.