The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

January 22, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.


  • I liked Larsson’s insistence (via Blomkvist) that it wouldn’t be fair to condemn the entire Sapo organization because of the actions of just a few members. He didn’t believe in “group guilt”, which is a refreshing change from how most people view government agencies. How many times has an entire governmental body been vilified because of a few corrupt officials? It was nice that even a clearly liberal author such as Larsson can acknowledge that sometimes there are just some bad seeds out there.
  • It was good to see Salander open up a tiny bit at the end and give her friendship with Blomkvist a chance. Even though I didn’t particularly like or care for the characters, this seemed a fitting route for their association to take.
  • I liked how Larsson summed up the case at several different points in the book. As a reader, it helped me keep track of exactly what was going on, which was necessary because of the complex nature of the cover-up.
  • Nailing Niedermann’s feet in place with a nail gun so Salander could make her escape and then calling the motorcycle gang over to finish the job was a pretty cool resolution to that particular problem!


  • I found it extremely hard to believe that the prime minister would have gotten involved in this case and would have cared about what happened to Salander during her childhood. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but can you imagine the president of the U.S. sitting down with a journalist if the CIA had somehow been involved in getting a 12-year-old wrongfully committed to a hospital??? Yeah, right.
  • I thought the while Erika Berger subplot was uninteresting and a big waste of time. I guess I should cut Larsson some slack here because apparently he meant to write several more books in this series, so perhaps these happenings in Berger’s life would have been important for later storylines. But here, in this particular book… the Berger scenes just took away from the main plot. Oh, and did anyone buy her assertion that she never thought of going back to Millennium after the other job fell through? That was the first thing I thought of!
  • All the very specific mentions of the cell phones and gadgets the characters used was annoying. Was Larsson angling for product placement dollars or something? Every time Larsson talked about Salander’s “Palm Tungsten T3”, I was taken out of the story and reminded about how OLD this book was!
  • Oh, geez… another woman finds Blomkvist irresistible. Cue the eye-roll.
  • Teleborian was such a buffoon that Salander’s “victory” over him felt pretty hollow. It would have been much more satisfying to see Salander get the better of him if he was actually a formidable opponent. As it was… meh. And adding child p. (don’t want to spell it out because of spam) charges to the mix seemed like an amateurish (and unnecessary) effort to make Teleborian even more despicable.
  • Perhaps this was a problem with the translation, but I thought Blomkvist calling the Section the “Zalachenko Club” was stupid, as was his “Knights of the Idiotic Table.” He sounded like an elementary school kid, for god’s sake.


I liked Hornet’s Nest a lot better than Played with Fire, but not quite as much as Dragon Tattoo. It was a nice wrap-up of the Salander case, at any rate. I give the book 3 stars out of 5.

3 Responses to “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson”

  1. I just finished “Played with Fire” and ran over to Borders only to find that “Hornet’s Nest” is only out in Hard Cover. At $28, that’s a bit steep for a novel.

  2. Does your library have it? Or do you have an e-reader that you can turn to?

  3. My library has tons of copies, but all are on the reserved waiting list. I guess I will have to sign up and wait because I have no e-reader. The library will probably be faster than waiting for the paperback to come out.

Leave a Reply