The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book of the Millennium trilogy written by Stieg Larsson, and published after his sudden death in 2004. With such an incredible first novel, I can only wonder about what else Larsson would have written had he lived. The other two books in the trilogy are ‘The Girl who Played with Fire’ and ‘The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’.
The two main characters in the story are Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist is an investigative journalist and co-owner of the magazine Millennium. His goal as a journalist is to expose corruption in some of Sweden’s richest companies. After a tip-off, he writes an expose on the financier Wennestrom, but he has been set up and is sued for libel. Having lost his credibility and facing a jail term, Blomkvist takes on a commission from Henrik Vangar to write a history of the Vangar family. Henrik, in his 80s, also wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his great niece more than 30 years earlier.
Lisbeth Salander is a short, skinny, pierced, tattooed girl in her early 20s. She has been judged as incompetent by the courts and is under guardianship. While she is completely anti-social, she is anything but incompetent and is a brilliant researcher (with some rather dubious methods). She is contracted to work with Mikael Blomkvist on his investigation of the Vangar family and the missing Harriet Vangar.
Together, Blomkvist and Salander discover some truly awful secrets about the Vangars and about Harriet in particular. As the plot hurtles towards its conclusion, they find themselves pulled into the horrible mysteries of the Vangar family.
This book was very different from most crime thrillers. It was very fast paced at times touching on issues including: fraud, religious fanaticism, Nazism, sexual sadism and more. The characters, particularly Lisbeth Salander, are not typical book heroes. The Swedish setting also added to the difference.
Although quite a long book, it was difficult to put down and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the other two books in the trilogy.
Book published 2005