Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

After hearing about Swedish author Stieg Larsson's trilogy for months and seeing it on various bestseller lists, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  Not only did I learn just what everyone was raving about, but I got sucked in.  This was a book I just could not put down (ask my husband).

After losing a much-publicized libel case, journalist Miquel Blomkvist is hired by the former CEO of the Vanger Corporation to help solve the 40-year-old mystery of his niece's murder.  Skeptical but without another job and unable to turn down Vanger's cryptic promise to help him prove his innocence in the libel case after one year, Blomkvist moves to the remote island of Hedeby.  There he becomes engrossed in the complex and shadowy past of the Vanger family, including the day Harriet Vanger disappeared.

Before Henrik Vanger hires Blomkvist, he hires a security company to run a complete background check.  The company gives the job to one of its part-time employees, Lisbeth Salander.  In her usual way, Salander produces a comprehensive background of Blomkvist, including documents only found on his personal computers.  While her employer may not ask questions as to how she obtained her information, Blomkvist certainly does once he learns of her report.  Thus, Blomkvist and Salander are introduced and quickly become more involved in each other's lives than either was prepared for.

This story is incredibly complicated with so many characters (the Vanger family tree included at the beginning of the book is necessary), but the complexity only makes it that much more interesting.  The mystery surrounding Harriet's disappearance (only her uncle believes she was murdered) has cast a dark shadow on the whole family, and it seems only Blomkvist and Salander, with their complementary research skills, can solve it.  But in the process, they'll learn more about each other and the Vanger family than they ever wanted to know.

Part murder mystery, part family drama, this opener to the Millennium trilogy packs a hard punch.  There are some very graphic, sexual scenes, but they are necessary for Larsson's point on the corrupt nature of crimes against women to be made (the original title of the book in Swedish is Men Who Hate Women).  While Blomkvist seems to be the main character and the man much of the focus of the novel revolves around, Lisbeth Salander quickly becomes the character the reader wants to know more about.  Her personality is unlike that of any other heroine we see in American literature.  She is gritty, resourceful, foul-mouthed, and unwavering in her principles.  She is a breath of fresh air, and I truly wish more books had been written/published that she was featured in.

5 out of 5 stars.  A must-read for anyone looking for a book they won't be able to put down.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I am sooooo excited! This is my book club read for September and I am THRILLED to get a chance to read it. :D