Thursday, 25 November 2010

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

Year of Publication: 2005
Number of Pages: 533 pages
Genre: Crime, thriller

Summary: Henrik Vanger is a very wealthy businessman and the elderly patriarch of the large and powerful Vanger family. However he is haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a sixteen year old relative 37 years earlier.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist and co-editor of the crusading, political Millennium magazine. However his career and the magazine's future are in serious jeopardy after he loses a very high profile libel case against a billionaire indutrialist. Vanger offers Blomkvist a job writing a history of the Vanger family, while in reality he is to investigate the disapperance.
As Blomkvist finds himself drawn into the dark secrets of the family he enlists the help of Lisabeth Salander, an enigmatic and dangerous investigator and genius computer hacker.

Opinions: This book is the first part of the Millennium Trilogy (the others being The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007)), which journalist Steig Larsson wrote in his spare time after work, and the manuscripts of which were delivered to the publisher shortly before Larsson's death in November 2004. The books have all been massive international bestsellers and, certainly on the strength of this first book, the hype is justified. The book is a complex and dark detective thriller, which weaves together various storylines and many characters. The original Swedish title translates as Men Who Hate Women and one of the key elements of the book is Larsson's abhorrance of violence against women, as well as corruption in politics and big business. It does have very strong messages, which occasionally threaten to overrun the story, but usually it succeeds in being able to deliver it's message while still delivering a consistently entertaining story.
There are plenty of memorable characters, especially the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, tough antiheroine Lisbeth Salander, as well as the idealistic ladies man Mikael Blomkvist.
An absorbing and genuinely powerful and at times shocking thriller. For the most part it is well paced but the story does drag a bit in places, also the plot has a few too many coincidences, but the complaints are pretty minor.
The novel, along with it's sequels, was adapted as a film in it's native Sweden, starring Michael Nyqvist as Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Salander. An English language remake is due for release in 2011 directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig as Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Salander.

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