The anti-hero and 200 million dollars

Peter Merton By Peter Merton, 23rd Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Crime, Thrillers & Mystery

My reflections on reading Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' trilogy

The anti-hero and 200 million dollars

She has stolen 200 million dollars by cyber-theft from the accounts of a deceased crook. The story speaks of three billion Swedish Kronor, and by my calculations that comes to USD 200 million. Am I right?

She is enigmatic, antisocial, reclusive, with a photographic memory and massive mathematical and computing ability but little capacity for empathetic imagination. She is a gamin, streetwise, ragged in appearance, provocative, sullen, difficult. And, forced into a corner by events, reluctantly, she takes on the Swedish secret service, and the entire establishment.

I've only just read Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) although he published them in 2007 and the English translations came out in 2009. I tend to get put off by excessive hype, which is perhaps why I've only read them now.

The plot and the narrative are compelling. Each volume runs to over 700 pages and I've read all three in a week - to the detriment of my own work and my sleep. And now that I've come to the end, I feel empty. I want more. But Stieg Larsson died, unexpectedly, just after delivering the manuscripts to his publisher in 2004, three years before publication took place. There won't be any more sequels to the saga of Lisbeth Salander and her tiny handful of trusted friends.

What astonished me above all is Lizbeth's character, behaviour, attitudes, and even physical description. I knew a girl just like her, in virtually every way except for the 200 million USD, and I'm astonished, utterly astonished, by this chance resemblance that builds up a talented and marginalised enigma over 2100 pages.

Salander is a classic anti-hero, in modern idiom, in contemporary guise, with modern-day profile, talents and activities. Larsson has a wonderful instinct with character and plot, action and reflection. The novel is written as a thriller, largely, mainly focused on action, and yet the enigmatic Salander draws the reader into an ever-deepening site of contemplation and reflection. There's a huge gratifying tension between these two features - the complex and fast-paced plot and the black hole that constitutes the psyche of Salander. Outer states, and a bewildering inner state that remains, throughout, an invitation into the depths of the individual psyche.


Fiction, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Millennium Trilogy, Novels, Reviews, Stieg Larsson, Thrillers

Meet the author

author avatar Peter Merton
I am a novelist, ceramicist, motorcyclist and traveller. I also write flash fiction, travel snapshots, and meditations for Christians in the new age.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Oct 2013 (#)

High hopes for fanfic when an author dies; I hope you will find some good writing that satisfies your soul.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
24th Oct 2013 (#)

Excellent piece as always!

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