Friday, 5 March 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

The publication of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is, in itself, a tragedy – Stieg Larsson died suddenly shortly after delivering the manuscript for the book, and its two sequels, to his publisher, leaving behind the unfinished plot outlines for a further 3 books featuring the main characters, a fact that has helped his sales along the way. Because the Millennium Trilogy are all that will be published by Stieg Larsson, so there is no risk of the series being marred by further, weaker books, something that has afflicted a great deal of authors.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced Journalist who is hired by an ageing industrialist to solve a mystery that has haunted him for decades. Whilst this storyline unfolds, we are gradually introduced to a socially inept computer hacker by the name of Lisbeth Salander – declared legally incompetent and yet incredibly gifted. As the story progresses, Salander and Blomkvist find themselves thrown together to try and solve the almost unsolvable mystery, whilst someone else will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The plot plods along at an amicable and gentle pace for the first third of the book, which is surprising, but at the same time works very well. At this point, the friendly pace of the book is interrupted by some brutal and fairly distressing scenes of a violent nature, before slowing back down again. This up and down feeling to the novel does continue throughout and it is an excellent plot device. The characters are likeable, although both of the main two have some annoying personality traits, and the large cast of other characters are varied, and make for a tough time trying to guess the culprit.

All in all, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great read and it is easy to see why it has become such a massive success, both in its native Sweden and across Europe. Can't wait for the Swedish made film which is released shortly, although dreading the inevitable American remake...

Highly recommended.

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