February 26, 2010

Reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Our book club chose a book by Stieg Larsson for March -- "The Girl Who Played With Fire." Since it is a sequel to his first book, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," I decided to buy them both and read them before our March meeting, which was a challenge because they're substantial and I only had a couple of weeks.

I picked up Dragon Tattoo in trade paperback size. It was "translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland" and the translation was published in 2008.

Information on the author:

Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor in chief of the magazine "Expo" and a leading expert on antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died of a heart attack in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," The Girl Who Played with Fire" and the third novel in the series, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest."

I had trouble getting into Dragon Tattoo until about the fourth chapter (page 69 of 590). Then I could not put it down. I think at first it was all the Swedish names -- people and places -- which I found confusing. The main character is Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who specializes in exposing corporate crooks in his publication "Millennium." He writes an article on industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom and, due to unfortunate circumstances, cannot substantiate his claims or sources. Blomkvist is indicted on libel charges, sentenced to a fine and a few months in prison.

He has decided to take some time off and distance himself from the business, leaving his partner to run Millennium, when he is contacted by Henrik Vanger, patriarch of a prominent, wealthy family. Vanger offers him a 2-part freelance assignment: research and write a book on the history of the Vanger family and -- secretively -- investigate and solve the disappearance of 16-year-old Harriet Vanger 36 years ago. Although her body was never found, Vanger believes that she was murdered and has become consumed by the mystery.

Lisbeth Salander, the actual girl with the dragon tattoo, is a personal investigator for Milton Security who becomes embroiled in the Vanger investigation with Blomkvist. She has a strange, sad background and leads a solitary life, but has incredible research talents.

Stieg Larsson 1954-2004
Telling any more of the story would just be a spoiler, although I will say there are some extremely x-rated, as well as violent, situations in this book so if you're the least bit squeamish, this isn't for you. The solving of the mystery and the plot in general were great and, yay, I was able to immediately pick up Played With Fire and keep reading. The same characters, Blomkvist and Salander, continue on in this book. I'm looking forward to reading the third in the series and am saddened that this talented author passed away at such a young age.


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