Lisbeth Salander is in big trouble. Again.
In the third installment of the late journalist Larsson’s unpretty exposé of all that is rotten in Sweden (The Girl Who Played with Fire, 2009, etc.), Lisbeth meets her father, who, we learned a couple of books back, is not just her sire but also her mortal enemy. Pater shares her sentiments, so much so that, at the beginning of this trilogy-closer—though there’s talk that a fourth Salander novel has been found on Larsson’s laptop and is being squabbled over in lawyers’ offices—he’s apparently tried to exterminate the fruit of his loins. Being the resourceful lass that she is, Lisbeth rises from the grave to take her vengeance. Or, as longtime Larsson hero/alter ego Mikael Blomkvist tells us, she somehow managed to “get back to the farm and swung an axe into Zalachenko’s skull.” Adds Blomkvist, helpfully, “She can be a moody bitch.” So she can, but that’s the manner of avenging angels, and Lisbeth has lots of avenging to do. She also has lots of help. Blomkvist, a little mystified as always, runs on the sidelines along with girlfriend and publisher Erika Berger, while some favorite figures from the first installment, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, return to do their bit, among them fellow überhacker Plague, who still hasn’t taken a shower nearly 1,000 pages later. There are some new or hitherto minor players along for the ride, including another Zalachenko creation, a German very-bad-guy named Niedermann, who covers his tracks pretty well. Writes Larsson, “The problem with Niedermann was that he had no friends, no girlfriend and no listed cell phone, and he had never been in prison,” which makes life difficult even for a master tracker-downer such as Lisbeth—whom, unhappily, Niedermann is trying to do in as well. It’s a delicious mayhem, where no man is quite good and no rich person has the slightest chance of entering the kingdom of heaven. Oh, there are lots of very bad bikers, too.
Patented Larsson, meaning fast-paced enough to make those Jason Bourne films seem like Regency dramas.