There has been a lot of chatter lately about Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which is a financial thriller, murder mystery and family drama all rolled up into one.
Posters promoting the book hang in Barnes & Noble windows and the novel made Publishers Weekly’s best-sellers list.
Is it good? Yes ... but, readers should know what they are getting.
The book was written by a Swedish author and is translated into English. There are a lot of Swedish names and places that American readers might stumble over. Also, some of the geography might be lost on Americans. Those hurdles didn’t bother me so much (with a name like Losnedahl I’m used to Scandinavian proper nouns), but they did slow me down a little, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you are buying a hardback these days. If I’m paying $25 for a book, I like for it to last awhile.
The other thing readers should be aware of is not to judge the book by the first 75 pages or so. I had a hard time getting into it, but once I was, I was hooked. So if you are just leafing through the book at the store or library, it might not catch your eye, but this intriguing story pays off in the end.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is the first in Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy, so readers can expect two more books to follow. But sadly, that will be the end because the author died of a heart attack in 2004.
The book centers around journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who recently was found guilty of libeling a powerful businessman. Temporarily sidelined from his magazine job, Mikael is recruited by the wealthy Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his great-niece, Harriet, 40 years earlier. Henrik believes Harriet was murdered by a family member and wants Blomkvist to take a fresh look at the evidence.
Blomkvist partners with Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old computer hacker, to uncover the Vanger family’s secrets, of which there are many, and the Vanger family members would prefer to keep their skeletons locked in the closet.
You almost need a family tree to keep all the Vangers straight, but Larsson creates some memorable characters and crafts a compelling mystery as Blomkvist and Salander start unraveling the truth behind Harriet’s disappearance.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has many layers. The mystery and family drama were my favorite parts, but Larsson also subtly weaves themes of corporate corruption, violence against women and Sweden’s Nazi past throughout the tale.
There is a lot to sink your teeth into in this book so you definitely get your money’s worth — as long as you aren’t afraid of umlauts.