** spoiler alert **
This isn't a novel: This is a hodge-podge of geek fantasies edited into prose.
Weird, exotic, super-researcher? Check. Women (two of them are at least age-appropriate, which a nice change) throwing themselves at protagonist? Check. Voyeuristic sex scenes? Check. High-tech intrigue? Check, I guess, although that Lisbeth is momentarily stymied when not provided with a research target's SSN doesn't say much for her skills. I spend a lot of time at work researching people who either predate SSN's, or whose SSN's I have no business knowing, and do pretty well. And, really? Sweden's best hacker can't get a SSN on her own?
The whole book just wasn't very interesting. The financial swindling story line was boring--watch "American Greed" if you're into that kind of thing--and the might-be-a-murder storyline is cool until it sort of falls apart at the end. Frankly, I think it would have been better had she actually been killed. It's not particularly believable, either, that the police who did such an apparently thorough job in 1966 wouldn't have discovered what Blomkvist and Salander found (especially the Ford Anglia, which I guess was a rare car in Sweden in the 1960's and would have been a valuable lead). I work in an historical archive and actually do a lot of what they did with old pictures, and some of it sounds plausible, but a lot of it sounds like an incredible and conveniently plot-advancing case of good luck. And for those of you who fantasize about being left unsupervised all night in the archives? Forget it. Archivists are protection-trained Rottweilers when it comes to their collections.
I don't really get the point of Salander's rape. As a counterpoint to what we find out about Harriet? There is no follow-up, though, and it doesn't really make sense. Is the state of social services in Sweden really so much worse than that of services in the U.S.?
The writing is mediocre, which might be a translation issue, so I won't harp on it, and the characters aren't that great. Larsson introduces too many characters: People who only appear once and could have been simply "the file clerk" or whatever, are named and described, which makes the entire book feel cluttered and sort of confusing.
Finally, I'm really, really, tired of "exceptional" characters who don't have to follow the rules. We'd all be more amazing if we didn't have to follow rules. There are a lot of things I could accomplish at work if I didn't have to follow personal privacy guidelines, but I don't them because it's both illegal and unethical.