**Dude, I just watched the Swedish film "När mörkret faller" (When Darkness Falls), a crappy movie about violence in Stockholm. But it made me think back to this book, which constantly refers to stats about violence against women in Sweden. Something is seriously up in Sweden. Gives me the creeps even more than Swtizerland.**
Wow. 500+ pages and entertaining right up to the last sentence? Lingers in the mind long after the book is finished? Geez. I didn't think it could be done in today's fiction world, except books for the morons who feel the need to "research" The da Vinci Code. Time to create a new shelf for this one, entitled: kicked ass.
There are several mysteries going on in this novel, from the strange disappearance of a young girl decades ago, to financial scandals in the curious backdrop of Sweden. Definitely original. The characters are fascinating and the story, engrossing.
The book gets four stars for keeping me massively entertained for the better part of the week, but it loses a star for some small issues that drove me so nuts that they are worth mentioning:
1) All financial terms are reported in the Swedish kroner, which is fair considering that it's a Swedish book. However, the translator could have at least added the equivalent of Euros or Pounds or Dollars so that the majority of readers -- that is, people not familiar with the value of the Swedish currency -- don't have to go on xe.com to try to figure out just how much money we're talking about.
2) Uhhhh ... can we have an American translation, please? I TEACH ESL FROM BRITISH TEXTBOOKS, AND I STILL HAD TO TEXT MY BRITISH FRIEND AND ASK FOR DEFINITIONS. One word: Haberdashery? FABRIC STORE!!! Yeah.
3) The family tree in the first few pages helps, but the character names and places are so close that they're endlessly confusing if you're not Swedish: Henrik, Harold (who live in Hedeby near Hedestad, by the way), Harriet, Berger the lover and Birger the crazy relative, Gustav, Gregor, Gerda, Gottfried .... ARHGHG. Drove me nuts!
4) The codes in Harriet's notebook and the mystery of why Cecilia Vanger appears in every photograph = predictable. That being said, the rest of the book is such a nightmare explosion of "who the hell saw that coming?!" that it makes up for it.
5) "Left-wing media liberal" + "socialist/communist" Swedish dude (just quoting FOX News here) = our author, who saturates the novel with his politics. I'm a liberal, so I don't care, but when characters become the mouthpiece for your political views, you lose creativity points with me.
On the whole? A great guilty-please/summer-read. Kicked ass for the most part. Read it! :)