: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
I’ve been hearing about these books and movies for a while, by Swedish author Larsson, but I hadn’t realized until recently he actually died before they were published and became a worldwide phenomena (they’ve sold like 30 or 60 million copies or something). Anyway, this is the first complete book I’ve read on my Kindle (I finish Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop on it, but I’d read about half of it on my iPad first) and I dived in knowing absolutely zero about the story. It turns out to be a murder mystery. It’s slow going at first, establishing characters and the situation, but once the mysteries start, they are intriguing. Basically our main protagonist is a disgraced journalist who is hired to investigate a young girl’s disappearance from 40+ years earlier. He isn’t sure he can do anything for the case has been studied for decades and there are no new clues, but he has nothing else to do, so he takes on the task. Eventually, of course, he makes breakthroughs, and the book takes an extremely dark turn (it’s definitely not for kids). He has help from a fascinating character: the girl with the dragon tattoo. She’s a hacker and information researcher who is exotic-looking, anti-social, and has odd personality problems, but somehow the two get along. The book is slow-moving, for sure, but never dull. You always feel you’re on the brink of huge discoveries, though in truth most of the really big breakthroughs don’t happen until the book’s final third. (But I should point out that the progression is extremely realistic.) I would imagine some people would prefer a condensed version of the novel, but I really enjoyed the Swedish environment (I have Swedish ancestors), the complex world of corporate finance, hacking, psychology, and other detailed topics the author explores. It’s a long book, but from the halfway point I read through it very quickly as the story really became exciting. It’s a disturbing read, unpleasant at times, bizarre and confusing at others, but literary, intelligent, unique, and perhaps even profound. The interesting character of the hacker girl is one of the special aspects of the story. The final mystery, when revealed, makes sense and all the pieces fit together beautifully. I found it unusual that when the mystery’s solved the book keeps going — there’s still more than 10% of the book to go! (I’m not sure I like that. Most things felt wrapped up and it felt odd for the story to continue and the later stuff that happened was not as compelling as the odd mystery that’s at the core of the book.) Overall, I’m extremely impressed and can’t wait to read the other books in the series, as well as see the Swedish films.