Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Lisbeth Salander is wanted for murder and has been shot in the head. Her surgeon, Dr. Jonasson, just wants to save her brain and her life, regardless of what crimes she may have committed. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist, her sometimes friend, sometimes lover, sometimes neither, just wants to expose the corrupt system that has victimized Lisbeth since she was a child. There are more Swedish characters here than I could possibly keep up with, and that wouldn't be such a problem, except that I occasionally got confused as to who was a good guy and who was a bad guy—or gal, as the case may be. The primary bad guys are Lisbeth's brother Niedermann (whose name I word-associated to Neanderthal), who cannot feel physical pain, and the ultra-sleezy psychologist Teleborian. The plot, along with various subplots, conspiracies, and intrigues, builds to a crescendo with Lisbeth's trial, in which the whole hornet's nest is exposed to all parties, right up to the prime minister. This may not be a literary thriller, but it is certainly a gripping one, and a beautifully fluid translated one; there are none of the awkward phrases that so often annoy me in a translation. Realism may not reign supreme here, but at least the two main characters are heroic without being flawless. Lisbeth is amazingly resourceful but manages to antagonize even her supporters at times with her refusal to divulge even the most benign secrets. Mikael's relentless endeavor to clear Lisbeth's reputation and record is sullied slightly by his philandering ways. This book seems to have more female heroines than the previous two, including Mikael's latest paramour, the statuesque Inspector Monica Figuerola, plus Lisbeth's lawyer (and Mikael's sister) Annika Giannini, and Milton Security's Susanne Linder, whose client is the eternally gutsy Erika Berger. Thank heavens it doesn't end in a cliffhanger.

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