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[305] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

” But Blomkvist was beginning to see that Harriet’s fate had played a central role in the family, and especially for Henrik Vanger. No matter whether he was right or wrong, Vanger’s accusation against his relatives was of great significance in the family history. The accusation had been aired openly for more than thirty years, and it had colored the family gatherings and given rise to poisonous animosities that had contributed to destabilising the corporation. ” [9:184]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo consists of two tightly woven plots of which the connection hinges on a Swedish journalist Mikael Blomvkist, who publishes a calumnous attack about a powerful financier and is sentenced to jail, fined a ruinous sum. His career is torn to shreds. He has resigned from his position as a publisher of the magazine Millennium more or less in disgrace. His only hope is the fulfillment of a strange assignment from an industrialist, Henrik Vanger, who hires him to write the history of the Vanger family as a pretext to investigate the disappearance of his then 14-year-old grand-niece, Harriet Vanger.

Whether he might light upon Harriet’s killer or not, the aging tycoon, agonized by the unsolved case for 36 years, promises to rebuild the journalist’s career and rescue the magazine. Blomkvist is aided by Lisbeth Salander, the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy who contributes to the title of the book. A social outcast who survives abuse in all forms, the anorexic-looking girl can discern patterns in things ordinary people miss and uses photographic memory to accomplish her goals.

The fact that he was going to be reinstated as publisher emphasised that Millennium felt it had nothing to be ashamed of. In the eyes of the public, credibility was no problem—everyone loves a conspiracy theory, and in the choice between a filthy rich businessman and an outspoken and charming editor in chief, it was not hard to guess where the public’s sympathies would lie. [14:293]

From a cold case in which police failed to prove that a murder had been committed, the duo uncovers new leads in the form of overlooked photographs and date book entries. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo does not intrigue readers with twists and turns galore, but proceeds like peeling the layers of an onion, insinuating the labyrinth of secrets covered by one another. At one point the novel leads one to believe that the victim fell prey to a religious cult that clothes its atrocious actions with the parody of biblical quotations. Wild imagination and suggestion of evidence also lead to the conclusion of a serial killer. Every member of the Vanger family answers the call of suspicion, consider that a continuous animosity has existed over the years. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lives up to its hype with its finely crafted plot, fully enriched by evidence and humanity of the characters. It shows how human interaction is almost always more trouble than it is worth, as the duo unveils shocking evidence of violence, physical and sexual, against women. The book is fulfilling in many levels, given that appearances in one case has pointed one way while the truth all the while unsuspected in another direction. This novel mainly focuses on Mikael Blomkvist’s revenge; Lisbeth Salander, being the eclectic and engaging character she is, shall deserve the spotlight in upcoming installments.

644 pp. Mass Paperback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

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19 Responses

  1. I’m one of the few who have not read this series yet. I am especially impressed by the fact you liked this one a lot, especially since you normally do not read this genre.

    I will have to give it a try as I do enjoy suspense thrillers.

    • I do enjoy this series tremendously because Stieg Larsson doesn’t just present a story. I enjoy reading about his characters, who are very etched and believable. The second one is even more engaging.

  2. I’m thrilled that you liked the book. So many have just freaking trashed the series (I suppose it is bound to happen when books get popular), but I love all three books. The characters are larger than life, damaged but likable. On paper, I would never imagine liking Blomqvist or Salander, but Larsson pulls it off. Now I am mourning because I will never have more than these 3 books.

    • I’m enjoying the second one so much right now because Lisbeth Salander is becoming more prominent. Blomkvist is also very eccentric in his own way, so exacting and principle-bound and yet so human.

  3. By the way, you need to see the movies. The first is out on DVD, and the second is at smaller indie theaters…

    • Isn’t Hollywood going to make an American version? American?! The local theater, actually Landmark Theatre, is running both the 1st and 2nd right now. 🙂

  4. Just finished reading this one as well. And the second one. And half the third one. It’s probably one of the more addictive series I’ve ever picked up. Salander does play a much more prominent role in the next two books and emerges as one of the more interesting characters in recent memory.

    • I’m right where Salander is wanted for triple murder since her fingerprints were found on a colt .45 pistol. This is getting so interesting and engaging—I just can’t put the book down!

  5. Just wait until you read the second two!

  6. I think I said it before, but I am glad you liked the first…and I must agree with overreadproject’s comment above..the 2nd and 3rd are even better in my opinion.
    A series that actually lived up to the hype.

  7. I respect your opinion so much and am so happy to hear you agree with what so many others have been saying about Larsson’s work. I have this on my shelves and am way behind the times with reading it!

    • Yeah, like Caite had commented, this series truly lives up to its hype. The writing is not sad, and of course, i have to give credit to the translator.

  8. I bought myself a copy of this when it came out in paperback…now I really need to get it read!

  9. The novel is really rich in detail and quick paced — And incredibly moving in depicting the struggles faced by its female protagonist. This novel somehow brings off having two really well drawn protagonists, one male, one female that one can empathize with. A middle aged journalist, and a troubled but incredibly talented young woman who works as a PI intersect to solve a labyrinthine plot. Lisbet’s story would have made an incredible novel on its own. She has Aspergers and is trapped in an awful school /social system with no advocates and non-existent mental health services. It is really dark in its themes somewhat like the Kite Runner. The complex mystery, thriller aspects are really good, and then the whole other aspects of the novel which is also a social comment on society in Sweden, journalistic ethics, misogyny, and gut-wrenching sexual violence. So prepare to be disturbed by the darkness it depicts.

    The only thing that bothered me a little, though the incredible characterizations and plotting made up for it totally was the out of time technology — It seemed like the novel was set in the 90s, but all of the technology action seemed to be happening in the late 2000s. So the technology used in the plot time lines seemed a decade out of whack sometimes. I will go back and read it and see if its something I misunderstood.

    All in all, its one of the best mystery /thrillers I’ve read from the last decade. In fact comparing it to the Da Vinci Code, the characters are not simplistic one dimensional cut outs at all. The rich characterizations and explorations of dark behaviour remind me of Elizabeth George. I’m waiting for the two final books of this trilogy. It is so sad that the author has passed away and we won’t be meeting the characters for more than just 3 books.

  10. […] book series you read the most volumes of in 2010: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Stieg […]

  11. […] that I cannot extinguish. The journalist Mikael Blomkvist intrigues me from the beginning of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium trilogy) and whom I always have seen as Daniel Craig. The underdog journalist who […]

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