Tuesday, January 12, 2010

REVIEW: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. Published 2008 by Random House. Crime Fiction. Translation.

Okay, so I'm the last blogger to review The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, late Swedish crime writer Stieg Larsson's first entry in his soon-to-be-completed Millennium Trilogy. I still liked it- a lot.

The story centers on Mikael Blomkvist, a (formerly) respected journalist hired by a wealthy eccentric to track down his missing granddaughter, disappeared years ago. He enlists Lisbeth Salander, a troubled but talented hacker, to help get to the bottom of what seems be an unsolvable case. But Blomkvist has other problems- his reputation is in ruins after losing a painful and expensive libel suit to a ruthless industrialist. And Salander has baggage of her own as well.

Late to the party as I was with this sensation of a novel, I really, really enjoyed it. It's a crack literary thriller that starts of slow but builds to a wholly unexpected conclusion. It's also a love story of sorts, the kind more about how people mature and relate to each other with baggage in tow. I thought Larsson's handling of Salander's psychology in particular was astute and realistic; I loved the detail into which he delves concerning her background and what makes her who she is. For a novel that deals in no small way with graphic violence against women, Larsson seems to have really respected them.

As far as the violence, it's mostly off-stage except for a couple of scenes anyway- I would not have enjoyed this book nearly so much had it had much more. As it was I enjoyed it quite a bit, even the ending which I was warned would come across like a sucker punch. For me, it didn't; for me, it was the natural, realistic place for the characters to come to. It may not have been sweet, or romantic, or what we'd like for them, but it's what they would do. I'm glad Larsson let them be themselves. I can't wait to see what they get up to next.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.