Nancy Oakes's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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I'm just getting into Scandanavian mystery novels, so I picked this up prior to my 3-week vacation. Couldn't put it down once I started it. I highly recommend this one; my understanding is that the author wrote two more prior to his untimely death. Hopefully they'll be available in the US soon; if not, well, I'll have to buy one from the UK.

very brief plot summary:
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist in Sweden, and also publishes a magazine called Millenium, a very independent and pull-no-punches magazine that delves into the seamy side of high finance and corporate Sweden. As the story opens, Mikael has just been found guilty in a libel suit brought against him by shady financier Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Mikael must pay a fine and spend time in jail, but that's not the worst of his problems. He has to try to save the reputation of the magazine. So when an opportunity arises for him to distance himself he takes it. It comes in the form of a strange offer from an attorney, Mr. Frode, on behalf of another wealthy man, Henrik Vanger. It seems that some 30 years ago, Vanger's niece Harriet (16 at the time) disappeared from sight on the family's island. No one saw her leave, no body was ever found, the way out was blocked due to an accident which virtually cut the island off from the rest of the world. Investigations into the disappearance met with no success, but the kicker is that Vanger has continued to receive a flower each year for his birthday, a tradition started by Harriet when she was a child. So Vanger wants Mikael to investigate the disappearance while ostensibly writing the family history. Yet, that is not the whole story; enter the girl with the dragon tattoo, an investigator with a private investigations firm owned by one Dragan Armansky. This is Lisbeth Salander, whose life is not in her own hands, but in the hands of the state until she decides to take some control. Her life seems to be about taking control of her own situation, and she has her own (and very different) way of doing so. She has a unique talent for investigating, and she and Mikael inevitably cross paths in his investigation. She is totally unique; I don't believe I've ever come across another character like her anywhere. As they come ever closer to solving the mystery of Harriet's disappearance, there are some who are not prepared to have answers revealed.

The book is not limited to just the mystery of Harriet's disappearance; there is a definite moral lesson here along with a look at the many imbalances inherent in society. Family dynamics are explored along with the theme of abuses of power. It may, as someone noted, seem somewhat anti-climatic at the end (I thought so too -- but it is an appropriate ending), but it is worth every minute of time you put into reading. I absolutely cannot wait for the next two in this trilogy.
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