Release Date: 24 July 2008
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
After years of hearing about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and even after watching the film, I finally got round to reading the book! Now it isn't like me to watch a film before reading the book, but I think in this case it was a good idea due to the sheer volume of characters!
Mikael Blomkvist is a disgraced journalist on the losing side of a libel case. Wennerström, a major figure in Swedish industry, has taken Mikael to court, where he has succesfully sued him for libel. Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is a socially inept computer hacker who is a genius when it comes to anything computerised. The pair are thrown together by Henrik Vanger, to investigate the 40 year old disappearance of Vanger's great niece, Harriet. In return for his work, Vanger offers Mikael proof that Wennerström is indeed a crook. So Mikael, later joined by Lisbeth, embarks on a journey to Hedeby, the hometown of the Vangers, to delve deep into the disappearance of Harriet Vanger.
We are initially introduced to Mikael and Lisbeth separately, with the book splitting time between Mikael and Lisbeth. The first part of the book is concerned with setting up the story, and I must admit it is a bit slow. We are taken through the court case and other details without any real action. I could definitely sympathise with Mikael, as he had lost his standing as a journalist and brought his magazine into disrepute. However I think Lisbeth made the more interesting character. It was refreshing to see through the eyes of a person that you would not usually be able to relate to. Although Lisbeth was socially awkward and didn't really speak to anyone, I found she was very likeable once you got to know her. As a reader you get to understand why she keeps her defences so high. Once her and Mikael are introduced, it is interesting to see how their relationship develops, as on paper they are very different people. Mikael is struggling with his journalistic ethics after the libel case and being introduced to an illegal computer hacker is bound to create sparks.
Once Mikael arrives in Hedeby, the pace really picks up and I found myself unable to predict where the next turn would take me. Larsson created an unpredictable sequence of events, which I really enjoyed reading. I have never before read a book that was set in Sweden, and I enjoyed learning about the Swedish culture. With the book being translated from Swedish, it was sometimes difficult to understand the references that Larsson made, whether it was to a popular author in Sweden or some of the places, it took a bit of research! Overall I do not think this retracts from the book in any way!
My advice for this book: give it time! Once you get past the beginning you will be hooked and it is well worth the wait!
My Song Choice: She Moves In Her Own Way by The Kooks.
This song reminds me of Lisbeth, she's so unique but this does not mean she is a bad person!