This reminds me of those thrillers that you sit through at the cinema which have such a brilliant third act that you will put up with an hour of tedium first. This vast, sprawling 750 page monster is less easy to forgive and could have done with a good edit.
For the first time ever in a Larsson book, I became disengaged at the point that it became a conspiracy thriller because to explain his theories on the Olof Palme assassination and the corruption at the heart of the Swedish security services, Larsson felt the need to introduce a seemingly endless array of characters: cops, spies, government officials and gangsters.
I don’t know about you but there comes a point in a book like this where you want to put your hand up and say, enough with the characters! I don’t know what half of them are doing here, whether they’re good or whether they’re bad, and what was their name again? And now you want to introduce more?
All I wanted to find out about was what was going to happen to a somewhat diminished human being called Lisbeth Salander. When Lisbeth finally does come back into the story that’s when the story really takes off… When Salander does reappear, she is like the Salander of the first in the series – a real, complex and dysfunctional character, unlike the cyborg of the second book.
When Mikael Blomkvist, the author’s alter-ego, has a fling with a super fit female cop, who encourages him to get out and get fit it, that’s when it feels a little sad, almost a foreshadowing of the author’s own death; as though he knew what an unhealthy lifestyle he was leading and that he really needed to do something about it.
Others have noted the rather heavy-handed one page asides about female warriors. I could have forgiven him for those, but it is the unnecessary sub-plots that I felt detracted rather than enhanced the main story. For instance, Berger’s stalker and Salander’s financial advisor, both of whom are pretty dull, and who therefore, and don’t deserve an inner life or a back story.
But these relatively minor points aside, Larsson was still one of the most original thriller voices in his all too brief life and it felt sad to say goodbye to Salander in this final instalment.