This is the third (completed) novel of what Stieg had hoped would be a ten-volume opus. At the end of the last book, Lisbeth Salander had been shot by her evil and well-toasted natural father, a former Soviet spy who had been granted immunity in Sweden in return for handing over information. We pick up the story here as she arrives at an ER with several wounds, including a bullet wound to the head, with the bullets still inside.
Don’t even try reading this if you have not read volumes 1 and 2. There are many references to characters from those tales, and one can easily get lost among the many, many named characters here. The first hundred pages or so of this book seemed to me a bit of catch-up exposition. But hey, the novel is 563 pps. A little expo won’t kill ya. Once the story gets rolling it is a locomotive, picking up steam with each chapter.
There is a diversity of action and character focus. There are the usual bedroom shenanigans, although that seemed reduced this time around. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist joins with other investigators, public and private, to get to the bottom of why the dastardly Zalachenko was officially protected for so many years, and why Lisbeth Salander was forced to pay a harsh price for his existence. Will the baddies get their comeuppance? Will Lisbeth hack into your computer, maybe get herself a new tat? Although the underlying concerns are serious, secretive, autocratic tendencies in Swedish government, wide-ranging societal hostility towards women, this is a fast-paced and riveting legal and journalistic action yarn, a page turner, populated with a wide spectrum of interesting characters. Fasten your seat-belts. Enjoy the buzz.