Q: When is it that when a 602-page book arrives in your post, you not only can't wait to start reading it, but wish it were longer?
A: When it is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, published by the MacLehose Press (an imprint of Quercus), and translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland. What's it about?
…women who were common soldiers, who bore arms, belonged to regiments, and played their part in battle on the same terms as men. Hardly a war has been waged without women soldiers in the ranks.
It is estimated that some six hundred women served during the American Civil War. They had signed up disguised as men. Hollywood has missed a significant chapter of cultural history here – or is this history ideologically difficult to deal with? Historians have often struggled to deal with women who do not respect gender distinctions, and nowhere is that distinction more sharply drawn than in the question of armed combat.
After reading the first 43 pages, I am pretty sure that Lisbeth Salander is going to buck this trend, simply by taking no notice of it.
The author of The Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larsson, was Editor in Chief of the anti-racist magazine Expo. He died suddenly in November 2004, at the age of 50, soon after delivering the text of the three novels to his publisher. The first of these, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, won ITV's International Author of the Year Award 2008; the Galaxy British Book Award for crime thriller of the year 2009; Waterstone's book of the year 2009; and the Crimefest Sounds of Crime Award 2009 (audio version). The second novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, received superb reviews upon its UK and (very recent) US publication.
Reg Keeland has translated all three novels; he is also the distinguished translator of other novels including those by favourites of mine Helene Tursten, Karin Alvtegen, Henning Mankell, Leif Davidsen and Camilla Lackberg, some of these in collaboration with Tiina Nunnally, also a very distinguished translator. (See here for more about Reg's work.)
I shall be aiming to read this book and have my review delivered by its official publication date of 1 October. If you don't hear from me between now and then, you will know why.
Crime Fiction journeys posts about Stieg Larsson, including many more reviews of the first two books.