They Come in Threes…

When I lived in Madrid, I noticed that everyone (and I mean everyone) was reading those Steig Larsson novels. I had never heard of this author, nor of his bestseller Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I didn’t realize this Swedish author had written a trilogy of crime novels that became extremely popular after he died.

Well, now they’re pretty famous in the U.S., especially after the first book was made into an American film. I made myself read the first novel before I watched the movie. Every time I put the book down, I was paranoid that all men looked down on me for being a woman. I felt all angry and victimized. It was like being in Feminist Theory class all over again.

To be frank, the first novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a bit hard to get into for the first 50 pages. All the legal stuff between the main character and a large (evil) company suing him for libel. Blomkvist is a handsome publisher for a journal that works to expose those doing wrong to justice. The story gets rolling once he goes to Hedestad and starts his strange assignment researching a disappearance that occurred 40 years ago. The mystery is pretty interesting and the involvement of Nazi-sympathizing Swedes is a new realm to me.

I listened to the second novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, on CD while driving across the country. I feel the story was perfect for sitting in the car, staring at a constant road in the middle of nowhere for hours on end. The only challenge was remembering all of the characters and their Swedish names. Also, the narration would frequently re-summarize certain points, which could get a bit tedious. Still, the story didn’t have the weird libel-sandwich the way the first novel did.

I’ve just finished the final novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I got it on Kindle from the library and read it within a few days. It kept my attention. Right now, I’m in the middle of several items (one being adjusting to a new coast) and it’s hard for me to settle in and embrace the nuances to more sophisticated texts. While I frequently wonder if the publishers should have renamed the trilogy Here’s a new Female character–oops! Blomkvist already slept with her, it was an enjoyable read. But I don’t consider this impressive fiction. I feel the writing had its strong points like the technological hackings, publishing tasks and the litigation in Sweden, but moments where people get romantic are as cheesy as in Dan Brown novels.

There are times when I have to read something less complicated, less verbose. My mind is wandering easily and reading clear cut prose helps me to get into the text faster and take a break from my current anxieties. This trilogy was a good break from the things at the back of my mind. Because shouldn’t books help you escape sometimes?

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