The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
Lisbeth Salander is unlike any girl you’ve ever met. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was originally meant to be called Men Who Hate Women, which is certainly a major theme of the mystery. However, the now-famous title is much more fitting, and gives credit to one of the most original and interesting characters in recent times. Lisbeth has what so many authors try but just don’t quite manage to give their more individual female characters: she’s not just angry, she has bite. Just how many classified mentally unstable, expert computer-hacking private investigators with a penchant for t-shirts with offensive slogans do you meet, even in fiction? I dare you not to find her fascinating.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opens with the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger, who vanished from her family’s remote village over forty years ago. Harriet’s vanishing act baffled the police, her family and her billionaire Uncle who has been trying to keep the investigation alive ever since.
The protagonist, middle aged investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist holds a curious sex appeal over most of the novel’s female population that really made me wonder how good looking Larsson must have intended for him to be. As much as I hate to compare books to their Hollywood counterparts, I think the American version of the adaptation has to have hit the nail right on its head to have cast Daniel Craig in the part. However, as much appeal Mikael and Lisbeth held, and as highly coloured and tangible their characters were, they were almost the only characters in the novel which were properly explored and fleshed out, with perhaps the only exception being Blomkvist’s business partner, best friend and sometimes lover Erica Berger.
Mikael and Lisbeth uncover a series of horrible and shocking murders which will repulse and shock you, and make you really dread and yearn finding out what happened to Harriet. That, and what critics have called the ‘gratuitous’ rape, sex and scenes of excessive violence that pepper the novel makes for a book I was really glad I read on a long car journey – not last thing at night before I went to bed or totally alone in the house.
As far as the resolution of the investigation is concerned, fans of crime stories may find the crux of it it rather predicable. I certainly guessed it. However, the way the ending was arrived at I could never have guessed, which still made the ending surprising and highly enjoyable.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a crime novel for people who don’t really ‘do’ crime novels. For months almost everyone I knew told me to read it. Now I can see why, and now here I am I’m telling you to read it too.