With the best intentions in the world I took out my script last night. I was going to have an evening of line learning (I am sure it will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one when I tell you that I have written a play called ‘An unexpected party’ that is participating in the 14th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival from Monday May 1st to Saturday May 6th at 9pm in the Teacher’s Club on Parnell Square – buy your tickets HERE…).
I had a slight problem. Well it was not a problem as such. It was more of a temptation. Since the start of the year I have been tackling my ominous bookshelves. In the herculean task I have set myself I want to reduce the number of unread books to a more manageable number. Not having bought any books since Christmas and reading on the bus journey to and from work is starting to pay off.
Well I was in the middle of my latest book and I picked it up during my line learning. This was about 8pm. At 2am I closed it, having just completed it.
It was ‘The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest’ by Stieg Larsson – the third and final part of his ‘Millennium’ trilogy. I had read the two preceding chapters while in Amsterdam – ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’ and ‘The girl who played with fire’ – and had rehoused them before coming home. The final chapter had been bought in the second hand bookshop under the railway bridge near Connolly Station about a year ago (pleasingly this bookshop is diversifying by offering a left luggage service for tourists – not your typical side gig for a bookshop perhaps, but if it keeps them afloat then more power to them. Anything to halt the full bodied assault by Amazon on bookshops is to be commended (it is part of the plan of that creepy weirdo Jeff Bezos – the CEO of Amazon – to close all physical bookshops and to replace these entirely with Amazon’s online bookstores and its ever accelerating race to the bottom.)
Like the two earlier books this is a crime novel set in Sweden. The two main characters are Lisbeth Salander – an eccentric, anti-social young woman who has been subjected since childhood to horrific abuse at the hands of the state; and Mikael Blomvist – an investigative journalist who writes for Millennium magazine. Salander has been accused of horrific crimes and will be facing trial. She is recovering from brain injury in hospital (you’ll need to read parts one and two to discover how this came to pass). Blomvist suspects shenanigans on the part of the Swedish secret – whose involvement with the Salander case is related to their protection of her father – the Russian KGB defector Zalachenko.
It’s all deeply gripping – involving Russian spies, defectors, computer hackers, hit men, lesbian Satanists. These books were translated from Swedish – and were international bestsellers. Originally they were meant to form a series of ten books, but the author died of a massive heart attack after delivering book three to his publisher, weeks before the publication of book one. He never lived to see what an international phenomenon.
I love these books. The motor along at breakneck speed. Despite each one being over 600 pages long, they are virtually impossible to put down. This is due to them being so plot driven. The characters in these books are drawn with very broad strokes – almost cartoon like. Character development or motivation is never an option. It is never necessary however as what engines the book is the insanely addictive plot. Salander is an anti-social misfit. Blomvist is a jaded cynic. This never changes. It’s hard to judge this book on an individual basis. The three books in the series all work as individual standalone books, but are nevertheless continuations of the same character.
It’s a real shame the author died so young – as clearly the unfinished business in this book would have been continued in the next chapter.
I probably won’t read book four in the series – ‘The girl in the spider’s web’. This book was commissioned by Larsson’s publishers – against the wishes of his girlfriend who still has possession of the author’s notes and plot outline for his intended version. Typical greed. They can go publish it on Amazon for all I care.