December Books 17) The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
Normally I have several books on the go at any given time, reading fifty pages of one before switching to another. Last night I realised that I couldn't put down The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, as Lisbeth Salander's impending trial for the attempted murder of her father unlocks a chain of conspiracy within Sweden's intelligence services which takes us readers right to the top of the government. Larsson's story-telling technique is fascinating: he lays out his characters' knowledge and intentions in great (though not always complete) detail, which makes the intrusion of brutal violence into the narrative all the more vivid. He also paints a compelling and meticulous picture of the political and physical geography of Sweden, reminiscent of Rankin (except that Rankin is less accurate on the politics). But most of all he makes the reader care about the fate of his central character, and in the most effective scene (a courtroom confrontation with a crooked psychiatrist) appeals for the essential humanity of those who have been written out of society for failure to conform. A brilliant conclusion to this superb trilogy.