Saturday, August 15, 2009

09.27 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005) by Stieg Larsson
Trade, Vintage Crime, 590 p.

I know you have seen this one. This is one of those books that is getting the full muscle of the publishing industry behind it right now. Basically there is a copy prominently displayed in every single book retailing space in America these days. I remember a year ago reading Bangkok 8 or it’s sequel which had a similar zeitgeist. I may have this wrong but I think that the author, Larsson, turned in the third novel in the series and then died right afterwards. That always pumps up the interest.

Regardless, I am always psyched to see genre fiction cross over onto the mass culture. Also, one of my favorite writers is Henning Mankell, a Swedish crime author so I was interested to check this one, by another Swede, out.

The plot is a difficult one to describe but it basically involves two threads and characters that intertwine. Mikael Blomkvist is a crusading financial journalist who has just come through a bruising libel trial. He takes a leave of absence from his magazine and is hired to investigate a 40-year-old missing persons case. The Vanger clan is one of the top industrial families in Sweden. Their patriarch is nearing the end of his life and wants to find out what happened to his niece who disappeared one day in the 60’s.

The other thread follows a young woman named Lisbeth Salander who is something of a disaffected loner. Tattooed, pierced and surly she seems like the last person who would be the top investigator in one of Sweden’s largest security firms.

The author does a nice job of spinning the two characters stories out and ultimately bringing them together. I felt it was a bit forced in the way he characterized them as polar opposites but for the most part it worked. I am a little surprised that American readers have taken to this book so strongly given the differences in pacing between this Northern European novel and most American books.

All in all, a fun book to read. I will definitely look to find his next novel when it comes out of hardcover next year.

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