Stieg Larsson’s tale is rightfully on the bestseller list. I doubt anyone reading this has not heard of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” either the book or the movie. This is the first in “The Millennium Trilogy”, but what I like to call the Lisbeth Salander series. Larsson’s meticulously plotted first book is intriguing in both the characters and situations created.
The effort Larsson put into this book shows what someone can do who has a story to tell. Each character in “…Tattoo” leaps from the pages to take on a life after the reader has finished the last chapter. I would like to read through this book again academically to see just how the plot fits into the standard plot structures.
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist share the stage as protagonists. Each one has their own subplot to the main story which brings the two of them together. A wealthy businessman, Henrik Vanger, whose time on the world stage is waning brings Blomkvist to the far north of Sweden to investigate his niece’s disappearance forty years prior. Blomkvist then brings Salander in as an expert researcher to aid him.
The main hindrance to Blomkvist’s investigation is the rest of the Vanger clan and time itself. So many are the family that Larsson includes a brief family tree at the beginning of the book. Some of the Vanger family are friendly enough toward Blomkvist and his efforts to uncover the fate of Henrik’s niece, while others are openly hostile.
Larsson’s descriptions are rich and vivid. At the risk of sounding cliché, he paints pictures with words allowing even those unfamiliar with Swedish cities or society to step into their story. As a highlight to Larsson’s storytelling, he had a gift with dialogue. Each character’s words take on their own voice in your head as you read. For me, I could hear the individual voices each character would have. I say this having not seen the movie to help my imagination.
I have debated picking up the next two books in the series partially because I know Larsson passed in 2004 and will not be producing any more stories such as this. But, also because I feel that I got to know the characters in this book and do not wish to see them embroiled in any further conflict. In the end, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I normally rate books on my 1 to 5 flag scale, but this one, I’m going to go a step beyond and give it six. Go read this book.