All of you Millenium fans out there, you know Stieg Larsson’s life story.
Perhaps it is the pathos of Larsson’s death and the intensity of his full life that are missing in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the first of his trilogy. That is not to say that the book is not a page turner. It has all the ingredients of a crime thriller. A teenage girl Harrriet’s mysterious disappearance from her home has not been solved for 36 years. Her grand uncle and industrial tycoon Henrik Vanger is haunted by the mystery. Henrik Vanger’s obsession is fuelled by the mysterious arrival of pressed flowers on each of his birthday – just the kind Harriet used to give him. Vanger requests a disgraced (wrongly of course) journalist Mikael Blomkvist to help him solve the mystery that the entire Swedish police and other resources available to this extremely wealthy man haven’t been able to do in all this time.
The one time financial reporter and part owner of “Millenium” magazine agrees to do so. He is confronted by red herrings in the form of members from the large and largely dysfunctional Vanger family. Beautiful Cecilia, the batty Isabella, Nazi supporter Harald and others obstruct Mikael’s investigations in their own way. It is a chance remark by the Patriarch’s lawyer that leads Mikael to Lisbeth Salander, a 25 year old freelancer in a detective agency who is socially dysfunctional but who with her hacking skills can dig out information on anyone with their number on the computer. Her photographic memory, weird ways (she is the girl with the dragon tattoo, is almost anorexic and rides a motor bike) and vague sense of justice and morality make her an enigma to most people but not to Mikael. He hits it off with her and together as a team they solve the mystery of Harriet but not before the pages of the novel are filled with the methodical details of the investigation and the horrific accounts of many crimes that have taken place over the years.
Eventually the answer to “who done it”, is arrived at and even the journalist (no prizes for guessing who Blomkvist is modelled after) has his reputation restored.
Just when you tire of the monotony of the Swedish landscape and the painstaking details of the puzzle, there is relief in the form of a fresh clue or the chemistry between Blomkvist and his women. Definitely a good read for crime fiction buffs.
Submitted: 9 Mars 2010