My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Having greatly enjoyed the first two thirds of this series, I was eagerly looking forward to the last, particularly because the ending of The Girl Who Played with Fire was such a cliff hanger. Hornet’s Nest opens where Fire left off, at the crime scene where Blomvist finds Salander in such trouble. Those troubles persist, big time, throughout this final installment, and it is up to Blomvist to unravel a conspiracy of mind-boggling proportions.
Regrettably, the plot thickens, and not in a positive way. The action grinds to a halt, and more than five hundred pages descend into an endless series of meetings, discussions, hypothesizing, and talk, talk, talk. True, the conspiracy is a complex one, but some judicious editing might have cut some of the less interesting passages, such as those lengthy ones explaining the constitutional status of the government of Sweden.
When the trial, which is the centerpiece of the plot, finally commences, Larsson’s usual taut pacing returns. The last quarter of Hornet’s Nest is suspenseful, but ultimately satisfying. It would certainly be possible for Larsson to have continued with this series, but since he cannot, it’s gratifying for readers to be able to let Blomvist and Salander go with a sense of equanimity.
Readers of Tattoo and Fire are encouraged to read Hornet’s Nest, where the real backstory concerning Salander becomes clear. Reading this entry as a stand alone, however, would probably be disappointing.