The first of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, follows humiliated journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, and his street-smart hacker-sidekick, Lisbeth Salander, as they investigates the mysterious disappearance of a 16-year-old girl named Harriet in the cold Swedish countryside.
Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson’s first novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...Mr. Larsson’s two protagonists — Carl Mikael Blomkvist, a reporter filling the role of detective, and his sidekick, Lisbeth Salander, a k a the girl with the dragon tattoo — who make this novel more than your run-of-the-mill mystery: they’re both compelling, conflicted, complicated people, idiosyncratic in the extreme, and interesting enough to compensate for the plot mechanics, which seize up as the book nears its unsatisfying conclusion ...his reportorial eye for detail and an instinctive sense of mood to create a noirish picture of Stockholm and a small island community to the north, showing us both the bright, shiny lives of young careerists and older aristos, and a seamy underworld where sexual and financial corruption flourish.
The novel offers a thoroughly ugly view of human nature, especially when it comes to the way Swedish men treat Swedish women. In Larsson’s world, sadism, murder and suicide are commonplace — as is lots of casual sex ... The book opens with an intriguing mystery. Henrik Vanger, an octogenarian industrialist, hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just lost a libel case under murky circumstances, to investigate the disappearance of his great-niece, Harriet ... The novel perks up as their investigation gains speed, though readers will need some time to sort through the various cousins and nephews and half-brothers and -sisters who populate the Vanger family ... But if the middle section of Girl is a treat, the rest of the novel doesn’t quite measure up ... Without any warning, Girl metamorphoses into a boring account of Blomkvist’s effort to take down the executive who originally won the libel lawsuit mentioned at the start of the novel ... And so Girl ends blandly.
Stieg Larsson's debut crime novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, leaves you wanting more from an odd investigative duo ...surprisingly disappointed by the first few chapters: They are dense with character and plot development, financial reporting mixed with umlaut-heavy names of people and places I didn't know ... The mystery unfolds, and the book takes off, in the fourth chapter: From there, it becomes classic parlor crime fiction with many modern twists ... The writing is not beautiful, clipped at times (though that could be the translation by Reg Keeland) and with a few too many falsely dramatic endings to sections or chapters. But it is a compelling, well-woven tale that succeeds in transporting the reader to rural Sweden for a good crime story.