The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first novel in The Millennium Trilogy.

It was published in 2005, one year after the author Stieg Larsson’s death.The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
It received The Glass Key Award form Crime Writers of Scandinavia in 2006.
According to figures from June 2011, the Millennium Trilogy has together sold 60 million copies in more than 50 countries.  

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Plot summary

The middle-aged financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the leftwing magazine Millennium in Stockholm is sentenced to a stiff fine and three months in prison for libeling billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström.

Editor-in-chief Erika Berger, Blomkvist’s friend, lover, and business partner, wants to fight on but he believes that unless he steps down as publisher and from the board, his professional disgrace will drag the magazine down with him. Just as he is at a loose end, Blomkvist is offered two richly rewarded projects by Henrik Vanger, former head of the Vanger industrial empire, who had Blomkvist thoroughly invested by Milton Security, who assigned their top dirt digger, Lisbeth Salander, to the job. 

On his estate on the tiny island of Hedeby, several hours from Stockholm, Vanger persuades the reluctant and skeptical Blomkvist to take on the search for his niece, already missing 40 years, presumed dead, by promising him evidence that Wennerström committed fraud. Blomkvist’s cover for his investigation is that he’s to spend a year writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes Harriet was murdered by a member of the extended Vanger family, dozens of whom were present in Hedeby on the day of her disappearance.

The island was isolated by an accident to a fuel tanker that blocked the only bridge, so this is a locked-room mystery, with this exception: while a murder is presumed, there is no body. Each year on his birthday the murderer torments Vanger by sending him a framed pressed flower, a habit Harriet had while alive. Blomkvist moves to a grimly uncomfortable cottage on Hedeby in the middle of a foul Swedish winter. He analyzes forty years of files Henrik Vanger has obsessively built up in his attempt to isolate his relative who murdered his niece. 

Blomkvist discovers that the Vanger family includes rather a large number of wife-beaters and what at times appears to be a predominance of outright Nazis, fellow- travelers and racists. The Vanger family, all with shares in the corporation, want Blomkvist gone: they have plenty to hide and don’t want Henrik, 82 and childless, to spend his money on dirt-digging journalists. 

Meanwhile, back in Stockholm, Lisbeth Salander’s legal guardian Holger Palmgren falls ill and is replaced by Nils Bjurman. We discover that Salander has been declared unfit to handle her own affairs and is considered mentally and morally subnormal by social services! Bjurman is a sadist who extorts sexual favors from Salander in return for allowing her to spend her own money on a new computer. Later he rapes her; she videotapes this event, returns with a Tazer to stun him, ties him up, then uses the videotape to blackmail him into writing good reports of her to the social services, with a view to eventually having a court declare her rehabilitated and capable. She roughly tattoos, ‘I am a sadistic pig, a pervert, and a rapist’ in large letters on his belly. 

Blomkvist discovers that Salander has hacked into his computer and hires her to help him decode the meaning of baffling entries in Harriet’s diary. After some false starts they discover that what they have is a list of names of brutally murdered women corresponding with Bible verses describing forms of terminal ancient punishments. On the premise that Harriet found out about the serial killer and was killed by him before she could expose him, they investigate further. 

While Salander is away following a paper trail already half a century old, Blomkvist stumbles into the torture chamber of a serial killer, who strips him naked, hangs him up, and confesses to forty years of rape and murder. He admits to raping but not murdering Harriet, whose disappearance baffles him too. As the killer starts to strangle Blomkvist, Salander, who has just independently solved the mystery of the biblical killings, bursts in and rescues him. Later they solve the Harriet mystery too. 

Vanger, of course, led Blomkvist by the nose on the Wennerström matter; he has no useful evidence. It is left to Salander, the computer hacker, to give Blomkvist the goods on Wennerström, which makes Blomkvist, the convicted libeler, a media superstar and ensures the survival of his magazine Millennium.

In the process Salander ends up with Wennerström’s fortune. 

 

By Editor

479 thoughts on “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
  1. This book is very well written and, even in with occassional translation artifacts, has a layered depth that is rare in crime fiction. Again and again I’m being impressed by the crime fiction being written in Sweden and Denmark. The sophistication of the writing in this book provides a strong indicator of this trend.

    The small segment of the narrative that takes place in Australia was reasonably accurately drawn. This suggests that Stieg must have been here. I agree that the title is silly and that a closer transliteration of the original would be better support for the themes in the book. Overall one of the best pieces of crime writing I’ve read for years.

    Paul – Sydney Australia,

    Reply to this comment
  2. Just finished “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” in English… a great read that got me thoroughly hooked. One complaint, though: the writing is often awkward and stilted — the fault, I assume, of the translation and not the author. Indeed, I note from some Internet postings that the translator himself appears none too happy with what the British publisher did to his work. In any event, since the rest of the series will not be available in English for years, I have just begun the second book, “La fille qui rêvait d’un bidon d’essence et d’une allumette” (in French, obviously), and find it to be far more fluent and readable. Note to Knopf: you still have time to do a better English version of the next two books, and improve the translation of the first one before it is published here in the U.S. Oh, yes, and how about restoring the original title?

    Bernard,

    Reply to this comment
  3. It’s nice to see a mystery actually engaging some genuine issues, and the writing is feverish, sharp, and mesmerizing. It’s embarrassing, however, for the English publisher to have replaced the original “Men Who Hate Women” with such a ludicrous, anodyne title as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The original title has everything to do with the novel’s themes. The presumably more marketable replacement is completely arbitrary (they could just as easily have called it “The Family with the Ugly Secret” or “The Village in the North of Sweden” or some such ilk). But don’t let that dissuade you from reading what is an utterly engaging and intelligent mystery, unlike anything I’ve read, with themes that elevate the book from the mystery genre into something close to literature.

    Scott in San Francisco,

    Reply to this comment
  4. I use to read detective novels. Millenium is one of the best ones I read for years. Kill your TV and read Millenium.

    Gil, a French in Vienna,

    Reply to this comment
  5. Simply fantastic, stricly recommended..

    Marco Lecis – Italy,

    Reply to this comment
  6. This book is very well written and, even in with occassional translation artifacts, has a layered depth that is rare in crime fiction. Again and again I’m being impressed by the crime fiction being written in Sweden and Denmark. The sophistication of the writing in this book provides a strong indicator of this trend.

    The small segment of the narrative that takes place in Australia was reasonably accurately drawn. This suggests that Stieg must have been here. I agree that the title is silly and that a closer transliteration of the original would be better support for the themes in the book. Overall one of the best pieces of crime writing I’ve read for years.

    Paul – Sydney Australia,

    Reply to this comment
  7. Just finished “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” in English… a great read that got me thoroughly hooked. One complaint, though: the writing is often awkward and stilted — the fault, I assume, of the translation and not the author. Indeed, I note from some Internet postings that the translator himself appears none too happy with what the British publisher did to his work. In any event, since the rest of the series will not be available in English for years, I have just begun the second book, “La fille qui rêvait d’un bidon d’essence et d’une allumette” (in French, obviously), and find it to be far more fluent and readable. Note to Knopf: you still have time to do a better English version of the next two books, and improve the translation of the first one before it is published here in the U.S. Oh, yes, and how about restoring the original title?

    Bernard,

    Reply to this comment
  8. It’s nice to see a mystery actually engaging some genuine issues, and the writing is feverish, sharp, and mesmerizing. It’s embarrassing, however, for the English publisher to have replaced the original “Men Who Hate Women” with such a ludicrous, anodyne title as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The original title has everything to do with the novel’s themes. The presumably more marketable replacement is completely arbitrary (they could just as easily have called it “The Family with the Ugly Secret” or “The Village in the North of Sweden” or some such ilk). But don’t let that dissuade you from reading what is an utterly engaging and intelligent mystery, unlike anything I’ve read, with themes that elevate the book from the mystery genre into something close to literature.

    Scott in San Francisco,

    Reply to this comment
  9. I liked it but not alot,did not work especially when i saw it was about 650 pages and umm… I read it and for what? Nothing can you believe this book is such a stupid book.I bet so and beg you to not read it.It is stupid…!

    Layla,

  10. Great book, best mystery I have read in years. Can’t wait for the next two in English and in the meantime I will read it again…and maybe again! The only suggestion is to add the map of the island to the US release when it comes out this September. A friend with a French version emailed it to me off of his copy. Very helpful in understanding the plot.

    Do, Michigan USA,

  11. Great book, best mystery I have read in years. Can’t wait for the next two in English and in the meantime I will read it again…and maybe again! The only suggestion is to add the map of the island to the US release when it comes out this September. A friend with a French version emailed it to me off of his copy. Very helpful in understanding the plot.

    Do, Michigan USA,

  12. So far, this has to be the greatest crime novel of the 21st century. perhaps only the next two in the Millennium trilogy will top it.

    Complex but lucid plotting, a great sense of place and a cast of characters to die for ;-)

    Above all, this novel has a great heart and that’s what keeps you turning the pages for hours on end.

    Also he has a cheeky sense of humour amongst the horror. At the point where I noticed a certain similarity between the Vanger part of the novel and Val McDermid’s “A Place Of Execution”, Blomkvist’s bedtime reading was “The Mermaids Singing”.

    Also, actually, I like the English title.

    Bruce Hatton, Suffolk, UK,

  13. So far, this has to be the greatest crime novel of the 21st century. perhaps only the next two in the Millennium trilogy will top it.

    Complex but lucid plotting, a great sense of place and a cast of characters to die for ;-)

    Above all, this novel has a great heart and that’s what keeps you turning the pages for hours on end.

    Also he has a cheeky sense of humour amongst the horror. At the point where I noticed a certain similarity between the Vanger part of the novel and Val McDermid’s “A Place Of Execution”, Blomkvist’s bedtime reading was “The Mermaids Singing”.

    Also, actually, I like the English title.

    Bruce Hatton, Suffolk, UK,

  14. As an ardent reader of crime novels I picked ‘Dragon Tattoo’ up rather offhandedly and thought to try it. I was glued to the book for the 3 days it took me to read it; nothing else mattered. Well written, super plot and a great read.

    Sue D,

  15. As an ardent reader of crime novels I picked ‘Dragon Tattoo’ up rather offhandedly and thought to try it. I was glued to the book for the 3 days it took me to read it; nothing else mattered. Well written, super plot and a great read.

    Sue D,

  16. After two days, I just finished the first book (in french) and found myself so stupid now that I cannot buy the second one, as it is sunday and the bookstores are closed…

    This Salander girl is so nicely plotted and so intriguing I cannot wait to see what will happen next. I felt sorry for her at the end of the book. She definitively is one of my favorite novel characters ever.

    For those of you who have not read these fabulous books, do it now!

    O. Voinnet, France,

  17. After two days, I just finished the first book (in french) and found myself so stupid now that I cannot buy the second one, as it is sunday and the bookstores are closed…

    This Salander girl is so nicely plotted and so intriguing I cannot wait to see what will happen next. I felt sorry for her at the end of the book. She definitively is one of my favorite novel characters ever.

    For those of you who have not read these fabulous books, do it now!

    O. Voinnet, France, ,

  18. I am nearly finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and it is without doubt the best novel I have read for years. Just can’t believe I will have to wait until 2009 and 2010 to be able to get hold of English version of the two follow up novels. Might be quicker to learn Swedish !!!

    Bill, New Zealand,

  19. I can only endorse the enthusiasm of my all fellow bookworms. I’ve just read the Danish transalation of the first Book and I’ve already got hold of Book2.

    I’m an Englisman living in Denmark but don’t have to wait for an Eglish translation!

    Bill Vase,

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