Monday, August 9, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Translated by Reg Keeland
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2008
590 pages
1st in trilogy
4.5/5 stars

Source: Bought for everyone in the family to read although so far only my sister and now I have read it.

Summary: Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who's just been convicted of libel. While in disgrace, he is invited by distinguished businessman Henrik Vanger to investigate his niece's disappearance some forty years ago. What happened to Harriet? How did a solid story turn in to libel? Along the way to figuring these out, Blomkvist meets Lisbeth Salander, a decidedly unusual girl who also happens to be the best private investigator he's ever meet.

Thoughts: I didn't know much about this beyond the critical acclaim it's received and the fact that my sister liked it, which is also impressive because she's pretty picky.

Plots: There are three main plots: Blomkvist's life after libel, Lisbeth's history, and the Vangers of whom there are many. They tie together well although it takes a while for that to happen. Some of the Vangers had ties to the Nazis which enabled me to learn a bit about Swedish Nazism; I didn't know much about Nazism outside of Germany/Austria so that was really interesting.

Characters: I mostly liked Lisbeth, except for her vigilante approach to justice although I understand how she formed that opinion. Blomkvist is a bit of a sorry creature who didn't even fight back in his libel suit. The other characters are pretty interesting and two in particular are really terrifying (let's just say they do/have done awful things to Lisbeth and Harriet).

Mystery of Harriet: I was feeling so proud of myself, that I might have come up with some solutions but I was wrong; I think I was trying to be too tricky and instead missed a candidate hiding in plain sight.

Length: Despite the length, this book moves really quickly. I did think it was a little long and there were some details that could have been cut out but overall I was impressed with how quickly I could read this tome.

Quibbles that bothered me but might not bother you: They smoked...a lot; I find that incredibly disgusting. The very casual attitudes toward sexual relationships (Yeah, puritanical American here!); Some language.

You may also have heard that there is a lot of violence toward women, both described in the book and referenced to. I can confirm that that is a big thread throughout the book although I think it's mostly meant to be educative rather than gratuitous. I did however blanch a bit at some scenes because I mostly read and watch lighter fare and am unused to such violence.

Overall: Page-turning thriller; Recommended for adults.

Cover: I quite like this cover; I'm not actually a fan of the covers that show a girl's back with a dragon tattoo-it's too literal.


  1. Great review! This book has been recommended to me, but I kind of forgot about it until your review. I'll see if they have it in the library, apparently it's pretty hard to get.
    Nothing wrong with being puritanical. I myself don't appreciate a casual attitude towards sex because it demeans the act of sex out of love, and turns it into something entirely carnal, and often, sex scenes in books turn into an anatomy lesson, which is just...ugh.;)
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am glad to hear the book moves quickly. I bought this one and was a little overwhelmed with the size.


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