30 January 2010

Books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

There is a lot of good stuff (and bad) in Swedish authors Stieg Larsson’s little mystery, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The novel is about a disgraced journalist named Mikael Blomqvist. He is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, who are a powerful, rich and dysfunctional, murdered Harriet over forty years ago. But soon Mikael realizes that Harriet’s disappearance is not a single event, but rather linked to series of gruesome murders in the past. Late into his investigation, he crosses paths with Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, an asocial punk and most importantly, a young woman driven by her vindictiveness. Together they form an unlikely couple as they dive deeper into the violent past of the secretive Vanger family.

The novel, while not complex (unless you try to keep track of all the various Vanger family members), is a well paced thriller with an interesting main character and odd ball, asperger syndrome type girl. Then again, there is the more than obvious fact that the late author sort of makes Swedish men -mostly 60 and over - out to be misogynist assholes.

The novel does take a long time to set up the meeting of Lisbeth and Mikael, and you get a great look in Swedish economics and libel cases. I found that part interesting, but most of its dropped in the middle for the “locked room mystery” that Mikael is trying to solve. Only the last part is disappointing, as the novel evolves into a boring account of Blomkvist’s effort to take down the executive who originally won the libel lawsuit mentioned at the start of the novel. The story of his revenge is dull and completely implausible, relying heavily on lazy e-mail exchanges between characters.

Still, this won’t stop me from reading the second novel in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

No comments: