Monday 29 November 2010

Stieg Larsson: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

First volume in the world-wide success that is Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. This combines a whodunit for a decades-old murder, a journalistic exposition of financial shenanigans, an array of personal relationships, a social commentary and more. Most importantly, it introduces the two main characters: financial journalist Carl Mikael Blomqvist and one of the most unusual (and unwanting) heroines of crime fiction for decades: Lisbeth Salander.

Salander is the girl with the dragon tattoo: she is the girl mistreated for years by the asylums and social services of Sweden, she is the hacker and fighter who goes unnoticed by all bar a few. Dismissed as stupid, near-autistic, a nonentity by those in authority, abused by professionals, her gifts and her courage drag her up to a crucial role in this book.

Okay then, I'm not sure if those two paragraphs will have scared you off or left you curious. Hopefully the latter and you're reading this third paragraph! Larsson's novel is a triumph of a debut: gripping, dark, incident-packed and written in a style all of his own. Slow in starting however, read only the first few pages and you will misjudge the book. Read a few chapters and you'll be hooked. You'll probably also be shocked and outraged at some of the content but that shouldn't put you off -- this is a book that plays you like a fish on a line. Order the next one in the trilogy before you finish this one -- you'll be angry with yourself if you have to wait for more.

Daftest comment from a reviewer (though overall he gave a favourable review): "It's hard to find fault with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. One must struggle with bewildering Swedish names"  Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post.

Well yes, one might expect a few of those in a book set in Sweden, written by a Swede!

See The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- The Book and The Movies for a discussion of books and both Swedish and US movies.


Deb Kingsbury said...

LOVED the Swedish film, which I saw before reading the book ... which I think was a good thing, because, already being hooked on the character of Lisbeth, I kept reading past the first chapter (or so) of the slow-paced backstory and eventually got hooked on the book too.

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