The final installment of Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy lacks the who-dunnit sense of completeness the first book possesses, and, thankfully, the soap operatic confusion of the second, although it reads like The Girl Who Played with Fire, Part 2, with everything kicked into high gear as he picks up the story right where Fire concluded making it a bone fide thriller. Never mind that there are enough holes in the entire story to make it easy to confuse with a block of Havarti. (For example, Blomkvist, the male hero oh-so sensitive to women’s needs has a daughter, who is introduced as little more than a plot device in the first installment then conveniently forgotten. Or the fact he is arrested for possession of an illegal firearm early on in Nest, said charge vanishing like his teenage daughter in all the confusion and action.) On the on the other hand, we are told about literally every cup of coffee, espresso, glass of mineral water, aquavit that every character drinks and exactly how they take it, every time they drink it.
Once again the cast of characters is epic, although many are carry-overs from Fire. Once again Larsson has demonstrated his mastery of creating page-turners. The plot weaves though decades of government intrigue involving a black-ops secret police department within the secret police, regular policemen of every stripe and conviction sorting through multiple murders and other related crimes, a ruthless motorcycle gang seeking revenge, Blomkvist’s acrobatics to prove his friendship to Salander, the punk waif heroine, and save her from herself and “the system.” And, of course, enough characters questioning the legality of what is happening to her with enough collective clout to stand up to the dastardly bullying villains once they close ranks. There are assassinations, confrontations, subplots and side trips concerning Berger’s foray into newspaper editing, Blomkvist’s tryst with a sexy body building secret policewoman, and Salander’s stolen wealth and computer hacking community to make three films.
The writing is once again alluring, save for Reg Kneeland’s ongoing confusion concerning English prepositions, and the ending reads like a teasing promise of future installments. As always, Larsson loves a multiple ending. The story ends at the conclusion of Salander’s trial, a three ring circus which she attends made up as a very scary clown. But wait, there is another ending, concerning the psychopathic blond behemoth left over from Fire strangely absent throughout most of Nest; and another concerning the reestablishment of the relationship between the two protagonists.
No Larsson book would be complete without the section blurbs. Whereas Tattoo has stats concerning battered women and Fire had snippets concerning algebra, Nest has an entire page at the start of the four parts devoted to the myth and mystique of the Amazons—fun stuff. The cover is again a bit of a game—can you find all ten hornets boys and girls?
What it is missing, sadly, is a genuine empathy for the semi-autistic savant heroine. We get glimpses of her thought process, see her altering states of dispassion and computer like calculation; we are shown her occasional and almost animal carnal nature that is nearly devoid of emotion; and we are immersed in her personal history replete with its multiple demands for restitution and retribution. But when Larsson’s equation is taken to its ultimate conclusion, something Larsson does not show us, Salander’s life is for all intent and purpose over. She is left obscenely wealthy, largely without motivation, as distrustful as a junkyard dog, and at the mercy of her own quixotic nature. In the final analysis, once the awe of the thriller has faded from the Millennium Trilogy we are left staring at some remarkably wrought pandering.
Paperback: 672 pages
List Price: $15.95
Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)