Read: April 2011
Enter, the recently disgraced financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who has just been convicted of libeling a heavyweight financier, Hans-Erik Wennerström, and faces a hefty sum and three months in the slammers at Rullåker. His rapidly deteriorating career begins to turn around when he is approached by the prominent industrialist Henrik of Vanger Industries as one last resort to unravel the mystery surrounding his great niece's, Harriet Vanger, disappearance over forty years ago. In return, Vanger will provide Blomkvist with damaging information against Wennerström.
Blomkvist agrees, albeit reluctantly. For one year he'll be on Hedby Island while he goes about the business of the investigation, and scrutinizing the alibis of those of the Vanger clan that was on the island on the day Harriet had gone missing, as Henrik is convinced that one or more amongst his family is responsible.
He goes under the cover story of ghostwriting the Vanger family chronicle. He's aided by the title character Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. Salander is a social ward of the state, she's antisocial, has no urge what so ever to submit willingly to authority and is covered with an assortment of tattoos along with piercings to complete the gothic ensemble. With her curious skillset, she prefers to dish out her own brand of justice and revenge onto those ruthless abusers that fall on her radar, all of whom she despises with a passion to be reckoned with.
Together they delve into the depths of the Vanger family's past until they find themselves very close to cracking this mystery open when the threats begin. Despite the looming danger, they proceed to finally discover the events that lead to Harriet Vanger's disappearance and possibly her death.
When I'd first picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I didn't know what really to expect, I mean I've read the blurb but the genre of crime fiction is relatively new to me. In the beginning, where it was elaborated how Blomkvist had landed himself in this spot was confusing to me mainly because of all of this financial mumbo-jumbo, so most likely readers savvy in this field are more comfortable here but I believe I got the gist of the situation after reading certain parts till my head hurt and finally putting in down for a short while before resuming.
The characters, on the most part, are believable and were three dimensional. Now I'll zoom in a bit on Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a truly intriguing personality; she's distant and wants little to do with anyone else unless she really has to. Her general behaviour and intense dislike to abusers leads me to believe that she had suffered at the hands of one herself in her past. She won't take nonsense lying down and her survivor's spirit is one of the reasons why I admire her.
We learn of certain family members' involvement with the Nazis during the Second WW and a little about Henrik Vanger's stay in wartime Germany. I thought this particularly interesting because I'm partial to even fictional accounts during that time in history.
This book is surprisingly violent, with certain parts that had thrown me a little off balance but I had the feeling I'd better get used to it. I should have taken a hint to the snippets of statistics of abuse of women in Sweden because it's of the themes later identified.
The fact that I had to put down and pick it up again numerous times before I got around page 270 to really get hooked, is the reason why I gave this book 4 stars. I know that lots of books start off by stretching and yawning before they finally pick up substantial speed but for me, 200 and something pages are too much.
Overall The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is a book truly worth reading and frankly if someone had told me it happened, I would stare in utter fascination and horror but I might eventually believe him because the plot is believable. Who knows what dark secrets those huge empires quietly sweep under the carpet? How many women had suffered such unimaginably gruesome torture, with their screams that go unheard? This just makes me wonder.
All that said, it's not for everyone. If you don't like reading about grisly murders and violence in general, and intricate plots you can pass on this one.
*Crossposted from Goodreads.