It’s the digital age. None of us lives in a vacuum.
Thus, it occurred to me–perhaps as long as five minutes ago–that to achieve Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,et al) there first had to be Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers (see June 6 blog). To someone like me, Salander is simply an extension of Havers.
Salander, for those of you still living in igloos, is the brilliant near-superhuman heroine of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy”. Havers–recently named my favorite detective–is Elizabeth George’s gritty yet vulnerable sidekick to big shot Scotland Yard detective Thomas Lynley.
Here are the two heroines’ similar characteristics:
- Outsider/loner – doesn’t fit in “normal” society.
- Odd looking.
- Thinks outside the box.
- Doesn’t work or play well with others.
- Stubborn to a fault.
- Gets even, gets the bad guy, often at great cost to herself. In Havers’s situation she gets in trouble with the higher-ups in the form of reprimands and demotions while damages to Salander are usually physical.
- Fearless in the face of danger.
- Doesn’t trust men.
- The men usually can’t keep up with her/them.
Mystery/suspense writers read other mystery/suspense writers. We devour them. It’s what we do.Elizabeth George had several Lynley/Havers novels under her belt before Stieg Larsson was heard of. Ergo… I believe that Larsson was inspired by George.
While his novels are plot driven, Larsson has shown growth as a writer through the three novels he wrote before his death. As odd and antisocial as Salander is, we know what is going on with her and how she operates. We get inside her head and are able to bond with her through her difficulties. We get inside the other characters, too. But Salander is special–as is her relationship with Blomqvist. Different as they are, they seem to be psychically in touch, always there for one another–like Havers and Lynley.
In Hornet’s Nest, Larsson also hit his stride with timing. As scenes switched effortlessly from character to character building tension as the book progressed, I could feel Elizabeth George in the background. She was cheering as Larsson feinted, tempted and teased, always one step ahead of the reader.
We need writers like these to inspire us as authors–and to improve the genre.