The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl With the Dragon TattooTranslated by Reg Keeland
After being convicted of libel, Mikael Blomkvist takes a job far different from his usual financial journalism. A retired businessman, Henrik Vanger, hires Blomkvist to write his family’s history. Vanger Industries is now run by his nephew and while not as large as it was in Vanger’s day, still does well. Vanger’s true reason for hiring Blomkvist, though, is to look into the disappearance of his niece forty years earlier.
Harriet Vanger disappeared one day when the family island was cut off from the main land. Only family and a few trusted employees were on the island that day. Her body has not been found. No one knows what happened. She was Vanger’s favorite and it has been a 40-year obsession with him to discover what happened to her. Blomkvist thinks the old man is crazy. But the offer is tempting and it gets him away from Stockholm and the scandal surrounding his magazine and his conviction.
When Blomkvist needs research assistance, he gets help from an odd young woman. Lisbeth Salander appears to be 18 or so, but is 24. She is tattooed, pierced, punk, and has an attitude. She also has the skills he needs. Salander isn’t sure about the job, but takes it. She has her own problems to worry about, including a mother in a nursing home and a man controlling her money that she doesn’t like. Yet this search for Harriet Vanger appeals to her.
Blomkvist is certain that no new evidence can be found after all this time. But his new set of eyes may find something that could be dangerous to all of them.
People have been telling me how good this novel is. As well as the general buzz in the reading world about it, I have a few friends who’ve read it and recommended it. I finally borrowed a copy from the library. For the first few chapters I was wondering what was going on; where was the wonderful story I had been promised? Then Henrik Vanger and his mystery was introduced. That’s when the book takes off.
I got sucked in. Because of my schedule, it took me three or four days to read the first few chapters. Once I got going, I put things aside and finished the book in two days. It took that long because I couldn’t put everything aside. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo grabs the reader and doesn’t let go after that.
Stieg Larsson’s mystery is well done with devastating conclusions. Almost everything the reader believes is twisted around by the end. The characters catch the reader’s attention and keep it. Salander is enigmatic; the reader gets glimpses and believes the character may be understood, then another layer is uncovered. She had a terrifying childhood that still has a pall looming over her present life.
Blomkvist is a realist and a romantic. He is a good financial journalist who will write the true story, not the line given by companies. When he is convicted for libel, he accepts the verdict. He had been conned and had made a mistake. He realizes he must leave the magazine – that’s the realist. During the book he has complicated relationships with two women, and one less complicated with the third. His sexual conquests are easy, more so than it would be in real life, I suspect – that’s the romantic.
There are rape and violence scenes that are vivid and disturbing. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t be for everyone because of that. Also, the beginning is slow and off putting because it doesn’t sound like an intense mystery. After that, though, the reader should hang on for the ride.
I got pulled into Larsson’s characters and understood their reactions when the truth was uncovered in a couple different areas. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is surprising, keeping the reader guessing all the way through the book.
Notice: Graphic violence, Strong indecent language, Suggestive dialogue or situations