Larsson’s books, set in Sweden, are page-turners. Well, the first one is. The second book, ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ isn’t quite as good but keeps the story going, even though the first few chapters, set in Grenada, seem to have no relevance to the rest of the book. The final one, ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ is dire – don’t waste your time on it.
His plots and characters are engaging but changing points of view frequently means that he has to keep repeating parts of the story to bring that character up to speed. He also includes a lot of details, which are not necessary for the story, nor interesting.
‘The rucksack contained her white Apple iBook 600 with twenty-five-gig hard drive and 420 megs of R.A.M., manufactured in January 2002 and equipped with a thirty-five-centimetre screen.’
And three paragraphs later, the even more inane:
‘Unsurpisingly she set her sights on the best available alternative: the new Apple Powerbook G4/1.0 GHz in an aluminium case with a PowerP.C. 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 megs of R.A.M. and a sixty-gig hard drive. It had BlueTooth and built-in CD and DVD burners. Best of all it had the first forty-three centimetre screen in the laptop world with N.V.I.D.I.A graphics and a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, which shook the P.C. advocates and outranked everything on the market.’
OK, this character, Salander, is a computer hacker and I guess the writer is trying to show us the sort of things she’s going to be interested in. Thank goodness he didn’t go quite as far as writing in the computer code she used.
I don’t know if he has some deal with Billy’s Pan Pizza but Billy gets a lot of mentions, usually as part of a dull and irrelevant shopping list.
‘She was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and a thin cloth jacket. She wore sandals and short cotton socks. She walked gingerly over to the 7-Eleven where she bought some shampoo, toothpaste, soap, kefir, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, frozen cinnamon rolls, coffee, Lipton’s tea bags, a jar of pickles, apples, a large pack of Billy’s Pan Pizza and a pack of Marlborough Lights. She paid with a Visa card.’
The fact that I read all three books shows either that I love reading shopping lists and ads for computers or that the books are pretty good. Fair play to him, he’s had three books published and was the second-best-selling writer in the world in 2008. Apparently over 27 million copies of his books have been sold. So, respect. It’s just that they could have been so much tighter – they read like first drafts. They were all published after his death in 2004 and perhaps no-one felt they could edit them.
By the way, I read these books using Amazon’s Kindle app on my 3GS iPhone, which has 8 GB of memory, 480×320 resolution, VGA video recording, a 3-megapixel camera, MMS and Voice Control. Now, excuse me but I fancy a pizza.