By Stieg Larsson
On the verge of a ruined career, journalist Mikael Blomkvist decides to accept a rather unusual job offer. The head of a well-known Swedish corporation asks Blomkvist to write his family history from as far back as it can be traced (a couple centuries) through the present-day. The premise of this biography gives Blomkvist a reason to look into anything and everything relating to the family, the corporation, and the surrounding geographical region while searching for answers in regards to the real reason he was hired. During a weekend-long family gathering, one member of the family went missing. Despite years of searching, no single trace could ever be found. Blomkvist has been hired to find fresh clues in a stale investigation. Along the way, he stumbles onto Lisbeth Salander. Salander works for a security firm that regularly does personal investigations, and Salander’s hacking skills make her particularly adept in the role of research assistant. When their paths converge, Blomkvist’s intuition and Salander’s ingenuity lead them down a wild and unexpected path, uncovering fresh horrors within the family saga, showing promise of restoring Blomkvist’s career, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of several people closest to the family drama, including Blomkvist and Salander.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson is the first book in the Millenium series chronicling the unconventional tactics of hacker Lisbeth Salander. Larsson instills the story with intrigue from the beginning, from starting the novel with Blomkvist’s professional downfall, to alternating the storyline between Blomkvist and Salander to give brief glimpses into their personal lives, to barely hinting at the answers to important questions, and manages to carry this intrigue through right to the end of the book. The cast of characters is wide and varied. Larsson introduces several characters early on as part of setting the context for the story, and brings in even more once Blomkvist starts his investigation into the family saga. Although it is difficult to track such a large cast at first, the key characters eventually take precedence in the plot and become main figures throughout the remainder of the novel. The complexity of the plot and cast mirror the complexity of Blomkvist’s investigation. The reader learns the history of the family along with Blomkvist, enhancing the sense of investment as Blomkvist and Salander seek to solve the family mystery, and urgency as it starts to unravel.
This book was hard to put down. Despite being several hundred pages in length, I finished it in a matter of days. The story moves quickly (once it gets past the slow work of exposition) and the characters are interesting. Larsson strikes a balance of leaving questions unanswered while providing enough information that the reader does not feel left out of the excitement, so I was reading with a constant sense of “what comes next?!” Fair warning, there are some graphic descriptions in this book, recommended for suitable audiences.