The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
2008, 465 pp.
The original Swedish title of this book means Men Who Hated Women, and that title is an excellent forewarning about what the book is about. If you like gritty crime novels or shows like CSI, you’ll probably love the book. My eyes and stomach prefer much milder fare, but I’ll still probably read the second installment, The Girl Who Played with Fire, when it comes out next year.
The girl who has the dragon tattoo is Lisbeth Salander, a girl in her mid-twenties who is a PI and can find out just about everything about anyone. I liked her. A lot. Her character was fascinating and Larsson ends the book in such a way that leaves you wanting to hear more of her story and background.
Mikael Blomqvist is a journalist who has just lost a court case for libel, which then puts his reputation and his magazine Millennium at risk. He decides to temporarily leave the paper in the hands of his partner to save face. Enter Henrik Vanger. Vanger is the former CEO of his family business, the Vanger Corporation. He hires Blomqvist to write a family history of the Vangers as a pretext to dig into the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger. The case has been cold for decades and though Mikael believes he won’t be able to find any new evidence, he accepts. This is where the book really grabbed me and kept me reading until 1 am to learn the outcome.
The book really has three storylines to it, the Harriet Vanger story is in the middle, with Lisbeth Salander’s story on the outside of that, and with Mikael Blomqvist’s story on the very outer edges. Consequently, the climax occurs with quite a few pages still left in the book. So at first it felt like the book should be over, but then after awhile I was able to get into the secondary and tertiary stories as well.
As I stated in the beginning, it really is about men who hate women, so if you read it be prepared for what that involves. I didn’t care for the more graphic scenes in the book, but I do know that not everyone is as sensitive to that as I am. And I do want to find out more about the girl with the dragon tattoo when The Girl Who Played with Fire comes out next year.