Friday, 13 May 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I have been meaning to read this series for years, and have a number of friends who keep recommending it and constantly reminding me! I suffered several unsuccessful trips to my local library; apparently being an International Bestseller means the book is always out of stock with a number of reservations in line waiting to read it.  However, as you will see in my next blog, I was lucky enough to win a £50 book voucher which I used to purchase a number of books including The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.
So what did I think.....? In my opinion, it is an exceptionally well written crime novel.   You would never know it was originally written in Swedish and is in fact extremely well -constructed. 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows three central characters who ultimately all come together in an attempt to solve a family secret which has remained just that for a number of decades.  The head of the Vanger Corporation is tormented by the disappearance of a young family member decades earlier, and is convinced that a member of his family murdered her.  A recently disgraced journalist and an anti-social investigator are subsequently hired to unravel the yarns of mystery that exist and arrive at a very surprising outcome.
The prologue was enough for me to be drawn in, and intrigued as to what could possibly have happened to this young girl.  I wouldn’t say the novel is particularly fast-paced but slowly builds the complex story, including the extended family history, and then picks up pace about half way through. It is gripping enough to keep you turning pages.  The main characters are very easy to warm to and the plot is interesting and not too predictable.  Within each chapter, Larsson jumps around quite a lot between characters but actually it is generally very easy to follow.
I found it extremely interesting to discover the background to the author, who witnessed a gang rape of a young girl when he was 15, and how this impacted on his career.  His books focus both on a central character called Lisbeth (also the name of the rape victim) and a theme of sexual violence against women.  The novel is particularly graphic in places, but I think it is a sign of how well-written it is, that these parts of the book work and it all blends together very well.  Other themes running throughout the book are journalism, the lack of morality in the corporate world, and Swedish society. 
It is a shame that Larsson is no longer with us and a outstanding crime-writing career was cut short, as his works would surely have developed into even more exceptional novels.  This trilogy will definitely go down in history.

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