AS technology advances and via the internet we enter peoples lives without leaving our homes so too are we distanced from knowing our neighbors and seeking what lurks behind the darkened windows of the quiet guy down the street. In “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” Stieg Larsson shows us that our closest neighbors may not be the quiet types we thought, the internet really is an information super highway and occasionally the pretty young female is not merely a victim.
Mikael Blomkvist has been convicted of libel and his magazine Millennium is struggling to stay afloat. Lisbeth Salander, a young Private Investigator, is endeavoring to keep her temper in check and stay out of harms way; a constant refrain to herself ?analyse consequences? speaking volumes. Henrik Vanger an aging industrial tycoon, whom the story centres around, obsesses over the 37 year old mystery of his missing niece. Some imaginative investigating by Salander and a couple of burnt corpses later Blomkvist shed?s some light on the case of the missing Vanger girl but, he still needs to clear his name and Salander may have a few tricks up her sleeve, continuing the tale of thrills and intrigues.
Larsson?s first foray into crime writing is reminiscent of another much older thriller, “The Collector” by John Fowles and perhaps will incite a similar cult audience. The main stage for capture and torture presented in both novels is equally disturbing; the average country neighborhood is not as average as one might suppose; the victims at the mercy of a run of the mill, respectable, middle aged captor. However where Fowlers unnerving story abruptly ends, leaving only your imagination to run wild, Larsson comes up trumps with the titillation of two more installments.
Skillfully addressing many modern day issues Larsson?s minor characters add to the thrill of the plot. Salander?s tormenting guardian asking her “so you don?t like anal sex?? before grabbing her by the hair and stuffing her knickers in her mouth” one graphic example of the brutally dealt with issue of violence against women. Introducing the idea that women are not always defenseless Salander later stands her ground repeating the guardian?s earlier sentiment “stop whimpering, if you complain I will have to punish you.”
Jumping from one character to the next several questions are raised and left unanswered, adding to the mystery and often feeling like a glitch in the plot, but perhaps it is the enticement needed to pursue these characters into the next installment of this provocative trilogy.
Finishing the novel became the focus of my week, the griping story keeping my eyes firmly fixed to its pages. Living up to its promise, I was left wanting more. Larsson weaved many characters and details into 500 odd pages without any real dull moments and has achieved a great read that will surely secure a worthy following. Bring on January 2009 and the release of the next English installment “The Girl who Played with Fire.”
Submitted: 9 Mars 2010