Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Published: 2005; Pages: 590
Audio: 16 hrs, 20 min
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a complex mystery and thriller that takes place in modern day Sweden. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist, in the midst of a professional criminal scandal, is approached by Henrik Vanger, an aging industry tycoon, to write his biography and while in the process solve the mystery of his missing niece who disappeared in the 1960s. When Mikael begins uncovering facts and leads that no one could have ever imagined, he calls in the help of Lisbeth Salander—the girl with the dragon tattoo.
Reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was much like being on a rollercoaster–the plot would thicken and complicate and there would be a quick swooooosh as I rushed down the hill but the tredge to get back up to the next plot high point was arduous and taxing. Larsson covers so much ground in this book–from racism including Nazism, to capitalism and enterprise, to rape and murder, to the legal nuances of Sweden–from the prison system to welfare, etc etc. As soon as I found myself turning pages faster and faster, all of a sudden I’d come to a screeching halt as Larsson would move onto a tangent that sometimes lasted for more than I could read in one sitting. I’ve heard people chalk this up to him being a foreign writer, but I’ve read plenty of foreign authors. I wonder more, if it might have to do with the editing process after Larsson’s death?
Before I read this book, my dad told me it was unreadable–the language and writing so foreign he couldn’t get into it. I do not agree with this statement. The book is very readable, but it might take some patience to get into the story. I’ve also heard people say that they’re scared of the violence in this book. The Swedish (original) title for the book is Men Who Hate Women and this is a theme that certainly runs throughout the book. Mikael, in his search for Harriett uncovers some very gruesome murders, and there are some other scenes of sexual abuse that I could see turning people off, but I didn’t feel that it was gratuitous.
I find myself very much on middle ground with this one–the mystery portion was enough to keep me interested for 590 pages but I think it could have been cut down substantially. I originally read this book for my book club meeting several months ago and we had a great discussion and most of the members liked the book–for one the violence was too much. Even though I left the meeting with lukewarm feelings, I listened to this book on audio recently and many of my original complaints–too long and tangential–went away with listening. The flow was much smoother on audio, which is something I don’t normally encounter with audiobooks. I’m not in a huge hurry, but I do see myself continuing on with the trilogy sooner or later.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy.” An interesting tidbit—the three books in the series were published after Stieg Larsson’s death in 2004. I am curious to know about the editing process—if Larsson had been working with an editor before he died or if everything was edited posthumously. If you know any information about this, please fill me in! I’m always curious about how works are edited without the author.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t read it yet, do you think you will?
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