Larsson, Stieg. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
I realize that almost everyone has already read this one, but I started with the second book and had to go back and pick this one up.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first in the riveting trilogy that enmeshes the reader in the lives of Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, and Erica Berger. Blomkvist and Berger are partners in the magazine Millennium. Blomkvist writes an expose on the powerful Wennerstrom corporation, but is convicted of libel and must pay a fine and serve a 3 month prison sentence. Disgraced and depressed, Blomkvist ponders his next step.
Approached by Henrik Vanger, he is offered a huge salary to (ostensibly) write a family history, but actually to see if he can discover who murdered Harriet Vanger, Vanger's great-niece who disappeared 40 years ago. Blomkvist is promised information about the Wennerstrom affair if he completes the year long contract. He doesn't have to solve the case, but he has to try. Vanger is in his eighties and has spent the last 40 years spending money and time searching for answers and regards this attempt as a last-ditch effort.
Enter Lisbeth Salander who, despite a horrific childhood and antisocial personality, is a brilliant researcher and computer hacker. Lisbeth is the girl with the dragon tattoo, many other tattoos, piercings, and other Goth paraphernalia. She's a fascinating character and has a digressive story-line of her own, but eventually teams up with Blomkvist.
Swedish sexual mores are differ drastically from those of the U.S. Any reading of Swedish novels gives a taste of these differences. The casual approach to sex and the inclusion of sexual violence can be quite off-putting. I cannot, however, think of a Swedish mystery that has not included some aspect of the abuse of women and/or the sex trade. There is almost always a dark underside to Swedish novels; I think this is why there is usually a love/hate (and little in-between) attitude toward Larsson's novels.
I didn't want The Girl Who Played With Fire to end; I didn't want The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to end either. I would have preferred to read them in order, but even out of order, I found them both entirely gripping works. The first novel, despite the title, is more about Blomkvist, but the second lets Salander take the lead.
Once again, I find myself regretting Larsson's death so soon after delivering his 3 manuscripts.
Fiction. Mystery/Suspense. 2008. 480 pages.