A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.
It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.
Pages: 590 (paperback)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Source: Checked out from public library
I began The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson for a book club meeting that was held in January. One of the members recommended the book; I had not heard much about it. As soon as I got my copy, I felt like the book was everywhere. Almost all of my reading was conducted on the commuter rail going to and from Boston. On every ride, I saw at least three other people reading it. Unfortunately, I did not finish the book in time for our book club discussion. With limited spoilers from the meeting, I found myself eager to finish. After the first 100 pages, the book started to get scarier and became more of a page turner.
From the internet, I learned that the Swedish title of the book is "Men Who Hate Women." While the title sounds unsavory, I think it is a more accurate description of the mistreatment of women in the book. At several points, I was startled and disturbed by the amount of and graphic detail of sexually violent scenes. I was also bothered by the treatment of marriage in the book. At the risk of sounding like a prude, I was troubled that none of the marriages were monogamous. I also found myself confused with why so many women were throwing themselves at one of the characters.
Lisbeth, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was the character that tugged at my heart strings the most. It is clear that she has a troubled past, but we did not find out much about her history. I also thought that her character did not have much resolution. There was such a contrast between her professional brilliance and her inability to have healthy real life relationships. Maybe there is more resolution in the other books in the series. As an aspiring esquire (please please send good thoughts my way on February 24th and 25th that I pass the bar), I was especially sad to learn that she felt that the legal system had failed her. From her previous experiences, I can understand why. However, I wish that she had had at least one experience to renew her faith in the legal system. On a positive and very selfish note, it made me feel more motivated to work towards passing the bar, so that I can try to help people like Lisbeth's character.
The book was an odd, but strangely satisfying way to start off my reading in 2010. I wrote about the book for one Sunday Salon post. You can read my entry here. The book is also helping to make some progress towards challenges. I am counting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson for the following challenges:
Orbis Terrarum: The author was Swedish.
2010 Global Challenge: I am counting it for the continent of Europe and the country of Sweden.
Chunkster Reading Challenge: The book is well over 450 pages. Actually, this challenge does not officially begin until February 1st. I cannot believe I finished a book early for it!