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The Blurb On The Back:

The Trial

Lisbeth Salander – outsider and apparent enemy of society – is charged with attempted murder. The state has also ruled that she is mentally unstable, and should be locked away in an institution once again. But she is closely guarded in a hospital, having taken a bullet to the head, so how will she prove her innocence?

The Enemy

Pulling the strings of the prosecution is the powerful inner circle of Sapo, the state security police. Determined to protect the secrets and corruption of Sweden’s rotten core, Sapo is not an adversary to take on alone.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

Only with the help of Mikael Blomkvist and the journalists at Millennium magazine can Salander avoid the fate that has been decided for her. Together they form a compelling and dynamic alliance. This final volume of the Millennium Trilogy is the culmination of one of the most mesmerizing fictional achievements of our time.

Continuing straight after THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, Lisbeth Salander and her brutal father Zalachenko are in hospital. Although Salander (who’s been shot in the head and buried alive) is in a critical condition, Sapo (the spymasters who ran her father) are concerned that she still might recover. If this happens then Sweden’s dirty dealings will be made public so they’re desperate to discredit her and put her back in the control of the state.

Salander, however, has allies.

Blomkvist and the Millennium journalists join forces with her old boss Armansky and Inspector Bublanski who led the murder investigation where she was the prime suspect to prove her innocence - helped and hindered by Salander herself who has to decide whether she can place her trust in them to share her secrets.

The final volume in the Millennium Trilogy is a flabby affair that revolves around the machinations of the state to lock Salander away and her and her allies’ struggle to stop them, interwoven with a sub-plot about Erika Berger’s new job as the editor of a rival newspaper and the poison pen letters she receives from a twisted stalker.

Salander is locked up in hospital for a large chunk of the novel, rendering her passive in terms of her own story and leaving other characters to explain the significance of events that the readers already know about, with this significance being repeated many, many times. Consequently there’s a lot of waffle in the text, which slows the pace considerably. The plot twists are also a little obvious, particularly on the part of the authorities trying to silence Salander, and Salander’s recovery from her shooting without lasting damage is nothing short of convenient.

The book does come alive in the trial scenes, which have a theatrical flair despite the telegraphing of the defence twists - mainly because the reader does root for Salander’s freedom. Unfortunately, the story tacks on an anti-climactic final confrontation between Salander and her brother (the resolution of which is never in doubt), which is purely there to tie up the loose ends. The Berger storyline is a distraction, there to reinforce how Swedish men are apparently threatened by successful women who know what they want sexually.

All in all, while the story ties up all of the loose ends, it’s a disappointing finish to a trilogy that I expected more from.

The Verdict:

A bloated novel that perhaps inevitably fails to deliver on the promise and the hype of this trilogy, it was a disappointing read, not least because it could have been something so much more.

Cross-posted to books and bookworming.

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