The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Publisher; MacLehose Press/London/2008
Warning! Any spoilers will be written in red, so if you haven't read the book, or don't want any in depth insights, skip over any red text!
Plot; Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
The victim's uncle, Henrick, employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate.
When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vanger's are a secretive clan.
Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
My Thoughts; Everyone should at least attempt a read of this book because it is, in one word, Brilliant!
I will admit it, I am a skipper. If there is part of a book which goes into too much detail (especially when describing nature because, lets face it, a blue sparkling lake in one book is the same as a blue sparkling lake in another), or if there is a monotonous or tedious section to a book I will skip over it. I have done this for every book I have ever read, even The Mists of Avalon which is my favourite book.
I did not skip one single, riveting word of this novel.
I will first start by talking about the storyline. It is well constructed, gripping and leaves the reader with no choice but to turn the page through sheer need to know what happens next. The plot is so well thought out, that I wonder what kind of brain can concoct such a story.
Lisbeth Salander, the female protagonist, is nothing short of wonderful. I would say she is a breath of fresh air, but the truth is that if I was to meet this woman I don't think it would be fresh breath I would be taking but something stifled. She is everything that the usual female lead is not; stubborn, awkward, uncomfortable and unique. But, with these faults, she is nothing short of likable and you immediately want this woman on your side, because you are sure on hers.
Mikael Blomkvist, the male protagonist, is a character completely different to his female counterpart. He isn't awkward and he isn't unusual, at first glance anyway. He is the consummate professional journalist who is forced to take a ride on the more wild and delinquent side of investigation. He is an obvious womaniser, and a poor father, but again, you cannot help but like this character.
What Larsson has done so well is to take such polar opposites of people, throughout this book, and combine them in relationships that, none-the-less, work.
(Spoiler Warning!) I do, however, have one issue with this book and it is the ending. Had Larsson ended the story with Blomkvist sitting laughing at the photograph of Salander in a blonde wig at the bank, it would have left me in a wonderful place, but instead he took it a few pages too far and, in a small way, ruined the end for me. Reading Salander's thoughts as she clears her house and discovers her great love for Blomkvist seems so uncharacteristic and out-of-place. This woman does not seem the type to, firstly, come to this romantic conclusion and , secondly, race out to tell him as much. Am I the only one left cold by the ending? But, at the end of the day, it is the matter of a few pages which I am choosing to forget ever happened.
This seems a day for admitting things, because I will also admit that alot of the financial jargon flew straight over my head. When talking figures and finances I am the last one to ask for help, but Larsson has done a good job of not bombarding the reader. He has used enough "money matters" to add to the credibility of the story, without turning off people like me who have a fear of numbers.
I should also add, and this is aimed at those readers with a squeamish stomach, be prepared there are a few "icky" spots, but as an easy queasy myself, it is nothing you can't handle and is nothing irrelevant to this enthralling tale.
As I said above, this book is one of the most riveting, if not the most, that I have ever read. I highly recommend it to any reader. Young, old, male, female... You name it.