I’ve resisted opening this book for months even though it called to me from my bookshelf. I could hear it saying, day in and day out, “Everyone is reading me! Come on then, open the cover. I’m really quite good.” I thought I’d pick it up when I had a break from reading my usual fare. After all, suspense is not my favorite genre, and industrial intrigue falls quite a distance behind even that. So with much hesitation, I read the first paragraph, and as usually happens to me when I open a book, I was hooked.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is, on the surface, the story of a journalist, Mikael Blomkqvist, the publisher of the magazine known as Millennium ( hence the term The Millennium Trilogy for Larsson’s three book series of which this is the first). Mikael is set up by a corrupt industrialist to take a huge fall, and is tried and convicted of libel. This is the background to the entire story. It explains Blomkqvist’s motivation for the rest of the novel and once you get past this first 125 pages of back story explaining how Blomkqvist wound up with a conviction and a prison term, you get to a family saga, years in the making. This is the part of the book I enjoyed the most. The Vangers, an old Norrland industrial family, have enough egocentrics, twisted personalities and downright nasty individuals to make this book interesting if it were just written about them. But wait, there’s more. When old Henrik Vanger convinces Mikael to take on the family chronicles and search for his niece who has been missing for over 30 years, he promises in return, that he will hand Mikael enough information to bring his court nemesis to his knees. Mikael takes the bait. During a year long exile to the north of Sweden, and along with Lisbeth Salander (I could write paragraph upon paragraph about this character, but you’ll have to read the book), a young and very talented private investigator, for want of a better description, Mikael uncovers the family skeletons, with almost fatal results.
There are so many secondary characters worth mentioning, and the book is so full of intrigue, relationship twist and turns, history and an abject lesson in sexual abuse, that if I wrote about it all, there would be no reason to pick it up. And you should pick it up. Mr. Larsson did not live to see the success of his trilogy, which is unfortunate, because I’m sure this book, along with the next two in the trilogy, were only his warm-up to a brilliant career.