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A must-read for fans of this trilogy, but...
on December 28, 2009
For the ending of this book alone, it is worth reading. However, while I wish I could say that this book was of the same caliber as that of the prior two books, in my opinion it was not. The book picked up right where the last left off, with Salander in the hospital being treated for her injuries. Blomkvist continues to sleuth on her behalf in order to expose those who have made her life hellish and attempted to frame her for all manner of crimes. Of course, in his spare time he also still manages to attract every woman within a 500-yard-radius like a bee to honey, but I digress. All of the other familiar characters from the prior books return.
I don't want to spoil the plot of the book, so I will give a general review. The overall feel of the book to me is that it was the least edited and least considered of the three. This would make sense if Larsson had intended to go back and do some more tweaking and editing before publication, but he was obviously unable to do so after his death. There are entire sections of the book that meander on and on with no apparent purpose with regard to moving the story forward. These sections would have benefited greatly from some serious editorial paring.
To me, the plot did not at all move along at the same clip as the prior books. The suspense just wasn't there to the same degree. I recall that I simply could not put down the previous books, but I was nowhere near as riveted by this one. In addition, there were a number of somewhat annoying grammatical errors, sentence fragments, etc.
For the good points of the book, the ending (if that is what we can call the last 150-200 pages) is a very nice, tightly written section that ties everything together beautifully. Again, it struck me that perhaps Larsson had written the ending earlier than the rest of book three, as it appeared to be the best-constructed section of the entire book. For the ending alone, this story is worth reading. I wavered between a 3-and 4- star review for this reason. Ultimately, I considered whether the book, standing alone without the other two, would be a 4-star book, and I don't believe that would be the case.
As an aside, one minor issue is that on the book cover of the copy I picked up while in Belgium, the first blurb says "The Trial", as if the book is mostly about Salander's trial itself, which it is not. The trial itself takes up about the last tenth of the book. Whether this type of advertising will occur with the North American edition I don't know, but I write this warning simply so you might know what to expect.
In summary, anyone who has read the first two books simply will not be able to deny themselves the final installment, nor should they. Although I did not find the book to hold the same level of suspense and I sometimes found it rather dull, the ending of the book makes it very worthwhile reading. It is a great loss that Mr. Larsson passed away before he could really fine-tune the final book, and before he could write another.