The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those highly touted books that, for the first several chapters, makes you wonder what all the hoopla is about. But once the set up is done, all those early doubts dissipate. Stieg Larsson’s characters are gritty and real. This story, first in a trilogy, introduces brilliant but disgraced journalist Mikael Blonkvist and emotionally disturbed ward of the state Lisbeth Salander, a pairing so unlikely that it is at first unbelievable. But have faith. This unusual twosome pools their not inconsiderable mental resources and manages to crack a cold case with unforeseeable repercussions.
This is a dark story concerned with victimization and concealment, the debasement of the powerless by the powerful, and the indifference of government. Nazi-ism rears its ugly head, a full half century after its defeat, and fanatical religion plays a role as well. This book also deals with the more personal issues surrounding personal relationships, especially those of trust and integrity. Some sections are truly the stuff of nightmare. But Girl/Tattoo is also concerned with the power of motivation and determination. Serial murder, rape, high tech trickery, corporate corruption, family secrets, all combine to make this thriller un-put-down-able.
It is truly lamentable that author Larsson did not live to see the incredible reception his novel has received. Recognition should also be granted to Reg Keeland for his stellar translation from Swedish to English. I would not have guessed that it was not originally written in English.