Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Steig Larsson

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.


  1. I haven't read these three yet...somehow, it just hasn't happened despite (maybe because of) all the hype about the author and his books. Your review convinces me that I need to read them...thanks.

  2. I just finished reading the last one. You must read these books in order as the character development is essential.

    Wonderful review, I had a tough time keeping up with all the Vanger cousins (and found the coffee references hilarious).

  3. Sam - They are not universally loved. I could have done without some of the sexual violence, which is one objection, but the length is another objection that has been raised. I love long books and didn't mind that at all.

    Man of la Books - I didn't find the character development a problem for some reason, but I would have preferred to read them in order. The plots are a bit extreme, but I do love the characters!

  4. I haven't read these books yet! I'm not sure if I will, but good reviews like this one do tempt me. Maybe someday when I'm in the mood for a really good story.

  5. It's hard to believe it's been an entire year since I read the first in this trilogy. I had a tough time getting interested, but once the characters were established, I couldn't put it down. Now, I'm listening to The Girl Who Played With Fire and I'm absolutely captivated! I think it's better than the first and wish I had a long commute so I could listen for more than just 15 minutes at a time. So good!!

  6. Dorothy - I really like the characters, and I like long, involved mysteries. With school about to begin, you probably will be too involved with prep work for your classes for a while, but maybe you'll find time for an entertaining mystery soon!

    Les - :) It must be difficult to get to a good spot and reach the end of your commute!

  7. I'm glad you still enjoyed it even if you read them out of order. My husband read them out of order too but loved them. Are you going to read the third one? I didn't like it much I admit mainly because I felt the tension was missing for much of the book.

  8. I've actually read the third one, but haven't reviewed it yet. Reading them out of order didn't bother me at all. It would have been nice to read them in order, but I enjoyed every one of them anyway!

  9. I haven't made it to the second yet, although it's sitting right here on my desk. I really enjoyed the first novel, more than I expected even. I look forward to reading the final two books in the trilogy.

  10. LF - I enjoyed them all, and I'm saddened that there won't be any more. Still have to review the last one!