By Steven Leventhal
I had never even heard of this book until I was at the cinema. That's right, I say cinema, because a "cinema" shows avant garde or foreign films while a "movie theater" features typical
The story behind the books themselves is just as intriguing as the novels. Author Stieg Larsson was a Swedish graphic designer turned journalist who became an expert on right wing extremism. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 after having completed three manuscripts for the books in his "Millenium" series. Due to his writings and lectures on neo-Nazi activity, Larsson and his partner Eva Gabrielsson faced constant threats from right-wing violence.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” takes place in
Blomkvist doesn’t have many options at this point in his career, and there certainly hasn’t been any new evidence in the intervening decades. However, Vanger offers him a great deal of money for the task. He also promises to support Blomkvist’s financially struggling magazine, “Millenium,” and offers to provide proof that Wennerstrom was in fact a corrupt businessman.
At the same time the readers are introduced to Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four year old misfit, whose photographic memory and computer hacking skills have made her a top investigator for a private security firm. Salander also has a few skeletons in her past, and we learn about those events as well as her run in with a state appointed legal guardian that contributes mightily to her anti social attitudes, and her contempt for authority figures. She has some piercings, wears punk rock clothes, and bears several tattoos, including the dragon in the book's title.
Salander meets Blomkvist when Vanger’s lawyer recommends her to help Mikael with his research on Harriet Vanger’s disappearance. Blomkvist’s journalistic approach has led him to uncover some clues that [surprise] the police overlooked. Every living member of the Vanger family becomes a suspect. Living in a small isolated island, everyone becomes aware of Blomkvist’s project, so Mikael and Lisbeth have to watch their backs as their every move seems to be scrutinized. Mikael also faces the pressures of his floundering magazine, while trying to solve the murder, and dealing with his estranged wife and daughter.
This book is an absolute page turner. Larsson has crafted a stylish murder mystery that reads like a film noir. It has a good deal of lurid sex and some gruesome violence, so it’s not for the squeamish. Credit needs to also be given to Reg Keeland for his fine translation from the original Swedish text. Salander is a fascinating character with her brilliant mind, unorthodox behavior, and casual attitudes towards sex and relationships. She is at the same time both salacious and shocking; someone you can’t wait to meet, and scares the hell out of you of you double cross her.
In addition to everything surround him, Blomkvist seems to be in the throws of a mid-life crisis, juggling his affair with his married co-publisher, a romance with Vanger’s niece Cecilia, and suddenly his newfound attraction for the mysterious Salander, who seduces him one night.
I enjoyed this book so much, I went out and got the next book in the series, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” in hard cover, something I almost never do. Run, don’t walk to the bookstore, or use the link above and order this book. My rating - a grand slam - four stars. Read it before the film comes out.
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