Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 538
I’m not sure how this book managed to pass me by – I’ve only just got round to reading it, way after it became a cultural phenomenon and the movie came out. That’s because I picked up my copy of it for free, after my ex-housemate moved out and left a load of books behind. You also see this all over the place in charity shops, so if you spot a copy of it then you should grab it, if you can.
This is the first book in Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, which was published posthumously after Larsson’s untimely death. In it, we follow the exploits of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of a magazine called Millennium, after he takes on some freelance work to investigate the disappearance of the daughter of a rich industrialist. All sorts of shenanigans follow.
What’s interesting about this book is the way in which multiple different subplots all come together and relate to each other. Larsson weaves the past and the present together into a mystery which spans multiple generations, and Blomkvist and his co-investigator, the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, a girl called Lisbeth Salander, make a decent team.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has something of a reputation – a lot of people consider it to be a bit too grim and gritty, but I didn’t think it was too bad. It’s on the gritty side for something that crossed over into the mainstream, but there are other books out there that take things to a much deeper level. That said, you’re still going to come across rape, incest and murder, and so it’s not exactly a light read, especially if you’re not used to this sort of thing.
As for me, I thought it was a competently-written thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep you going along the way, and it was also expertly translated. The tell-tale sign of a bad novel is if it makes you stop every now and then as you try to reconcile a problem with the book with the flow of your imagination. That doesn’t happen, here – Larsson keeps you turning the pages over and over until you ht the end.
Now, if you do decide to read this book then you should bear in mind that it’s going to take you a reasonably long time to finish it – there are a lot of pages, and the print is pretty small. Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel like you’re making progress, because you are – progress might be slow at first, but once you get absorbed into the story, which you will do, then you’ll find it hard to put down and before you know it, you’ll be hitting the climactic ending.
As for the ending itself, there were still plenty of twists and turns coming even after Blomkvist discovered what actually happened and brought the culprit to justice. It also sets you up perfectly for the second book in the series – I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it sometime soon.