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Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

by on Apr.25, 2010, under Readings

Apparently I was a few years behind in discovering this book. This, the first novel in the Millennium series, was initially published in 2005 after the authors untimely death the prior year. According to the Wiki, three finished yet unpublished manuscripts where found amongst his belonging while his estate was being dispositioned. They made the author, Stieg Larsson, a posthumous best-seller and garnered several awards.

I found this to be an excellent read. The Crime/Mystery genre is not one I tend to gravitate to, so a novel must be fairly captivating and not overly intricate to hold my attention (lets face it, I can only keep track of so many sub-plots and double-crosses). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a wonderfully dramatic mystery that really ramped up my desire to read more the deeper I got into the story. For the main mystery being explored, the disappearance of Harriet Vanger some 40 years ago, I was certain I had figured out the villain at least half a dozen times, and I was still surprised when the final reveal came. The other 2 sub-plots, the Wennerström affair and the personal life conundrum of Lisbeth Salander, were also both compelling, but I found only one to be really satisfying. I love when the good-guy gets his revenge, it just warms the cockles of my heart.

The character for whom the book is titled, Lisbeth Salander, is a strangely compelling girl, who’s life the author only gives teasing glimpses of. Finding more out about her dark past and how it shaped her into her present self will definitely spur me on into reading the next book in the series. The other main protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist, was very well developed and gave an interesting impression of a European man. He has a very nonchalant attitude about sex and keeps the company of several women throughout the book, but at the same time he holds a very defined sense of moral and ethical responsibility, as exemplified by his continual reference to his ‘Trust Capital’.

I also very much enjoyed reading a novel what was not written by an American author. It had an interesting European slant with names, places, and references that were not the commonplace cliches often written about in American fiction. It made me use my imagination more then usual, which I found fun and engaging. Trying to envision the small community of Hedeby Island, with it’s old WWII bunker, the inlet by Gottfried’s cabin, and the bridge that was it’s the only access other then by boat (which plays a significant role in the mystery) gave my mind lots to ponder. Hearing descriptions of Stockholm and the other suburban communities of Sweden piqued my curiosity about the county (mind you, it’s still much too cold for me to contemplate visiting at any time other the the peak of summer).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo does contain some fairly graphic descriptions of misogynistic violence, as hinted at by the original Swedish title, which translates to “Men who Hate Women”. But if you are not squeamish, this is defiantly worth wading through the marginal amount of grisly brutality for a great who-done-it story with a few surprising twists at the end.

Side Note: There was a film adaptation made of this story, and the other books of the series, by a Swedish production company a few years ago. The rights were apparently sold to a US company and it had a limited release in US theaters in March of 2010. I am hoping to find a US DVD release of this, as I think this is a story that would translate well to the big screen. If anyone happens across it, please let me know.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_with_the_Dragon_Tattoo
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