I realize that a large portion of you have already read Stieg Larsson’s über popular “Girl Who…” series of books. However, I’m going to review this book anyhow. I will not spoil the ending but I must warn you that this book is not 100% Swedish meatballs and warm fuzzies.
There are times in my life when I realize how very naive I am. It’s especially true when my preconceived notions get in the way with reality.
Let’s take, for example, the country Sweden. In addition to IKEA, here’s what pops in my head when someone says, “Sweden”. I think of:
Hockey, or maybe…
I might even think of things like vikings, snow, moose, blonde hair and cinnamon rolls.
However, I do not associate Sweden with sadists, rapists, serial murderers, computer hackers, and international business. Perhaps that’s why I found “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo” so mesmerizing.
The first one hundred pages (this is a guess because I was listening to it on my mp3 player) was, admittedly, slow. Larsson expounds on the investigative financial journalism, libel suit and trial of Mikael Blomqvist, editor and part owner of Millennium Magazine with his partner and sometimes lover, Erika Berger. (By the by, Erika is married, but, don’t worry- her husband knows about Mikael and his wife’s sex life and it’s okay with him). When Blomkvist is found guilty of writing a libelous story regarding business magnate Hans-Erik Wennerström, his career seems ruined.
I supposed that this background was significant but all I heard was blah blah blah. Was there a point to all of this? How did this series become so popular? Was all this financial rhetoric going to have some sort of relation to the rest of the book? Should I be paying better attention? Should I look up the exchange rate of the Sweish krona to the dollar?
Things started to pick up when Mikael is summoned by the mysterious Henrik Vanger who wants him to write a memoir of the dysfunctional and rather nasty Vanger family. However this is a front for Henrik’s real purpose, which is to have Mikael search the records for his niece, Harriet Vanger, who disappeared 40 years before.
Then walked in Lisbeth Salander (or, to be more exact, in rode Lisbeth Salander on her motorcycle). I then understood why this book had 40 reserves on the library’s 20 copies.
Forget lingonberry flavored jam and Nicklas Lidström – Lisbeth Salander, the tattooed, pierced, hair dyed black, anti-social computer hacker, was way more interesting than anything I’ve ever heard about Sweden. A ward of the court since she was a young child, Lisbeth was a brilliant freelance investigator for Milton Security. She works only when she wants to and racks up zero points in the congeniality category. Her mother is in a nursing home and she appears to be completely forgotten by society. And, yet, she is a sympathetic character and one worth remembering.
She teams up, in more ways than one, with randy Mikael Blomkvist in order to solve the mystery of Harriet. In the end, we readers learn way more about the Vanger family than we’d probably want to know. I also learned that Swedes like things that are brined just as much as my German ancestors did, their liverwurst and pickle sandwiches on rye sound disgusting and coffee is mentioned on every other page. No exaggeration.
All in all, a completely entertaining book and one that I was happy to read during an especially unpleasant Michigan February. If you read this one too, let me know what you thought.