Friday, May 7, 2010
Harriet Vanger, member of one of Sweden's wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.
This was a great book. Listening to it on audio enhanced it, I was swept away with this mystery and looked forward to listening to it every day on my daily commute. Plus, I love Simon Vance's narration - he's one of my favorites! He did all the accents and pronunciations perfectly - he's an amazing narrator! Towards the end, I listened to it as much as possible, whether I was driving, doing needlepoint, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, you name it. The story centers on Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist specializing in business reporting who is hired to find out what happened to a missing girl forty years earlier. He has lost a libel suit against a large corrupt Swedish industrialist and is now somewhat disgraced in the industry. We are sympathetic towards Mikael, he was set up. As we get to know his world a little better, I was interested in his life and his part time lover and business partner, Erika Berger. Mikael is honest and upright, but he's not perfect. He has his problems. Now divorced, he sleeps with a married woman openly and even admits himself he's not the best father to his seventeen year old daughter.
Mikael is hired by the legendary Swedish business magnate, Henrik Vanger. Now an octogenarian, retired and reclusive Vanger has been consumed with the disappearance of his beloved niece Harriet, who vanished into thin air one day in 1966. Henrik hires Mikael to solve the mystery of what happened to her, using his skills as an investigative journalist. Mikael has nothing better to do at the moment and is being offered a small fortune to do it, but he must move up to Henrik's family home for a year - where all the other Vanger's live on Hedeby Island. It's quite a family, and Henrik detests most of them, certain one of them was responsible for Harriet's disappearance. As Mikael delves into the files and police records and thousands of photographs of the day Harriet disappeared the same day as a parade and a huge oil tanker accident on the bridge to Hedeby Island, he unearths some startling and macabre truths of this reclusive family. It nearly kills him.
The plot thickens with plenty of twists and turns. On the other side of the coin is the story of Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth works for a top notch exclusive private investigative company. She is hired by Vanger's lawyer to do a background check on Mikael before Vanger hired him. She is an odd girl. She's had a hard life, but she is a survivor and a genius on computers, one of the greatest hackers in Sweden. But, she has loads of social issues, I suspect she has Asperger's Syndrome. Her story is fascinating and riveting, I loved her character. Always dressed and styled in the "goth" way, her plight with the system makes you truly sympathetic towards her.
Before long, she and Mikael join up to solve the case of Harriet. Together they unravel the truth, but it's quite a journey to get there.
There is so much to this book that I haven't gone into for I don't want to post any spoilers, but it's a great story and I'm eager to get to the next two books in the trilogy. Alas, I had no idea that the author died, I don't even know the circumstances of whether all the books were published posthumously, but they are great, and I loved the locale and got a real flavor for Sweden - I want to go there now! I don't usually read mysteries or thrillers, but this is a combination of both and I simply loved it. Lisbeth is so interesting and amazing, though introverted and vulnerable, she and Mikael complement each other wonderfully. He's so normal - and she's so not! I love it how she starts out as a victim and learns to defend herself, you'll know what I mean when you read it.
Read the book if this is your genre - it's one of my favorites of the year! It has some really creepy moments not for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, it only made the book that much better and kept me on the edge of my seat. Once I finish the entire series, I'll see the movie, I hear it's very good and faithful to the book, but I'm avoiding it for now, for I like to keep the characters in my head as I've imagined them.