Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Edition: tradeSource: Purchased
Date Completed: 12/28/2011Rating: 4/5
After falling for a clever hoax, financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist is convicted of libel. Not only does he face a three month prison sentence, but his career in jeopardy as well. Soon after, Henrik Vanger, an elderly, semi-retired executive of a prominent Swedish company hires him to investigate the disappearance of his great niece Harriet, who disappeared 36 years earlier at the age of 14. Initially, Henrik asks him to write about the history of the Vanger family, but is clear that Blomkvist's real purpose will be to solve this decades-old case. Henrik has been obsessed with having this case solved before he dies. There has been no trace of her in all these years and it's assumed she is dead. However, every year on his birthday, he receives a mysterious gift of a pressed flower, like the ones his great-niece used to give him.
As Blomkvist begins to dig into the Vanger history, he hires the smart, highly talented, Lisbeth Salander to help with the investigation. She looks like a punk-rocker, and she is both tough and brilliant, with a talent for computer hacking. She's also heavily-tattooed and antisocial.
For me, this novel started off extremely slow first (150+ pages), and I couldn't understand what all the hype was about. The translation from Swedish wasn't always smooth either, and there are several subplots, but I was determined to finish it as we are planning to see the movie (today). Once the story got off the ground, it had me quickly turning the pages. Each time one mystery seems solved, another one surfaces. The setting is Sweden, and the atmosphere always felt dark and cold -- perfect for this story. The character development, especially of the two main characters was fantastic. Lisbeth was a fantastic character, even though she could be a downer at times. Blomkvist was the perfect compliment to her, in my opinion. I felt like I was inside their mind at times.
Those who haven't read this one yet, should be aware that there are a couple of disturbing incidents of rape and other abuse against women. The story is definitely graphic at times. If you aren't too disturbed as you read, by the end of this novel, I believe most readers will be anxious to read the (2) books which follow: The Girl Who Plays With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Have you read this one? What did you think?
We saw the American version of the movie this afternoon, and we thought it was great. The graphic, sexual violence made me cringe. Despite that it was a terrific movie. I am now anxious to read books 2, and 3.