The final volume of Larsson's best-selling "Millennium" trilogy begins where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off: Lisabeth Salander lies comatose in a Swedish hospital, a bullet in the head, while a few rooms away her father, a Soviet defector, recovers from the severe axe wounds she inflicted. Meanwhile, journalist Mikael Blomqvist sets out to clear Lisbeth of murder charges by exposing a secret group of Swedish intelligence officers who had conspired to protect her father's identity by nearly destroying Lisbeth. Unfortunately, this crackerjack opening is followed by 100 pages of tedious plot rehashing and dry summaries of Swedish history and politics. Because Larsson's fascinating heroine is offstage for much of the early action, the novel lacks its predecessors' compelling narrative drive, although a few surprising scenes will keep readers hanging in there. Their patience will be well rewarded in the final 200 pages, where Larsson ties his multiple plot threads together into a satisfying conclusion. Larsson's other female characters, including Annika, Mikael's lawyer sister who kicks some serious legal butt at the climactic trial, and Berger, Mikael's old lover and business partner who battles sexism at a major newspaper, play bigger roles here and reflect the author's passionate opposition to misogyny and injustice. Verdict Despite its flaws, this is a must read for Larsson fans. New readers should start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10; 500,000-copy first printing.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Simon Vance isn't about to change anything that worked so well in his renditions of the first two-thirds of the Millennium trilogy. But as the late author planned, the books form a coming-of-age story, albeit an unconventional one, in which the rough-edged computer genius Lisbeth Salander moves from aggressively antisocial behavior toward self-awareness and happiness. Much of that happens in this book, and Vance follows Larsson's lead, subtly decreasing Salander's stridency, even as she is forced to combat an awesome array of villains. Vance has no problem vocally distinguishing each of the bad guys, along with the heroic team of police and journalists led by Salander's co-protagonist, magazine writer Mikael Blomkvist. He even manages to help listeners identify a Stockholm telephone directory's worth of Swedish names. Vance wrings every ounce of suspense out of the prose, and there is one shocking confrontation near the end that allows him to pull out all the stops. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 21). (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.