Wednesday, April 02, 2008

This Month's Pick: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

By Stieg Larsson
Protagonists: Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander
Setting: Hedeby Island, Sweden
Rating: 4.8
I'm always hesitant to read a book that is enthusiastically recommended as a "best" something. So when Ali Karim, an assistant editor at the e-zine Shots, praised The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, calling it "one of the greatest crime-fiction novels I have ever read," well, I thought, I'm bound to be disappointed. But Ali was pretty close to the mark -- this is a great novel, an updated take on the locked-room mystery with some thriller elements thrown in.

The story revolves around the Vanger clan, which owns a once-great but fading corporation. The head of the family, 82-year-old Henrik Vanger, hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just lost a libel suit and is facing jail time, to unravel a 40-year-old mystery: the disappearance of his niece, 16, from the family's secluded island on a day when the island's one bridge was inaccesible. Vanger fears one of his own family murdered his niece. Blomkvist is facing his own troubles: his magazine Millennium is fighting for its survival after the libel suit, and he's sure that the person he was found to have libeled -- industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom -- is a guilty man. Vanger dangles him information about Wennerstrom and a fat paycheck if Blomkvist takes the job and moves to the island. So he does, and eventually hires as an assistant Lisbeth Salander, 24, a troubled young woman who is also a brilliant computer hacker. And so the fun begins ...

This is a massive 535-page tome (after all, we have to unravel all the family secrets), but it moves quickly, for the most part (dragging just a little at the end). Luckily, author Stieg Larsson wrote this as the first part of a Millennium trilogy (the English version of the second book will be released next January). Unfortunately, shortly after finishing the trilogy, Larsson, a Swedish journalist who battled racism and the far right, died suddenly of a heart attack. With only three books, Larsson indeed leaves behind a small legacy, but once that will only enrichen the crime fiction genre.


Kerrie said...

gald to have found your site (through your 4MA posting) Lourdes.
I have read DRAGON TATTOO yet

Unknown said...

So glad people are starting to catch on to how good Larsson is, as this just might be the best book i've read this year!!