Book review of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’


Read rave reviews about the book… picked it up and became almost incapable of getting distracted from it.

‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ is written by Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish author who left behind an unpublished crime fiction trilogy when he died of a heart attack in November 2004 at a young age of 50 years.

Stieg Larsson - The man behind Lisbeth Salander

(An interview of his can be referred on  http://knopfdoubleday.com/marketing/mediacenter/LarssonInterview102704.pdf)

The original title of this first book in the trilogy is Män som hatar kvinnor – “Men Who Hate Women”. As hinted from it’s original title this crime fiction does cover the aspect of negative attitude towards women, especially sexual violence. Infact, it even shares some statistical figures related to injustice / atrocities on women in Sweden (though they seem a little unrelated to the novel) before every new chapter in his book. A Google search about Larsson tells us that when Larsson was in his early teens, he witnessed his friends gang-rape a girl named Lisbeth and he never forgave himself for not helping the girl. The incident made Larsson a feminist in a way and he abhorred violence and abuse against women. Perhaps, his disgust for sexual violence inspired the story of this book and building its super-hero character Lisbeth Salander or ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’.

The original title

The story of this crime-fiction revolves around two main characters – Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist or rather a unique, punk-like, flawed, unbelievably intelligent, skinny girl and a middle-aged intellectual journalist who’s quite a womaniser with morals.

The first 30 pages or so were pretty slow-paced for me, making me re-think if it was right to have picked up the book but once Lisbeth Salander entered the scene, the book transformed into a complete page-turner which I irresistibly felt like finishing in one go… it’s a different story that completing 554 pages at one go wasn’t gonna happen 🙂

The English version

This first part of the trilogy deals with unravelling the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Vanger Corporation’s CEO – Henrik Vanger’s niece and nailing her killer. Henrik Vanger proposes to hire Blomkvist more as a sleuth rather than a journalist to investigate the disappearance of  his daughter-like niece. Blomkvist agrees on taking up the task after some apprehensions as in any case he has ruined his career by losing a libel case involving damaging allegations about billionaire Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Moreover, the old Vanger lures him to take up the case by assuring him that he would be rewarded with some solid evidence that would prove Wennerström as the scoundrel Blomkvist suspects him to be. A major acquaintance with a number of Vanger family members begins along with an an in-depth analysis of every detail that occurred around the day Henrik’s niece, Harriet, disappeared. This is where Lisbeth Salander who’s been discovered as an extremely intelligent researcher is persuaded by him to join him in the investigation. The story explodes at the point when these two lead characters team up, making it move at an incredibly exciting pace.

Then of course, there are many other interesting key characters involved like Dragan Armansky and Erika Berger who not only play a brilliant supporting role but help us understand the distinct personas of Lisbeth and Blomkvist.

All in all, it’s a great read if one likes crime fiction or merely just fiction, for all it matters.  The book also ends up tutoring us with some Swedish terms like Herr (Mr.) and Fröken (Miss) and introduces a hell lot of tongue-twisting Swedish names that effortlessly and endlessly confuse you. The book also gives you an impression that there’s a lot going on in Sweden regarding sexual violence on women. But one thing that’s left me amused is the insane amount of coffee the Swedish have… I wonder if they ever really get sleep after filling themselves with litres of caffeine 🙂

A movie on this book was already out in Sweden in 2009 and a Hollywood version starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is being discussed to be released in 2011

So, it’s a good idea to catch on the book first before watching it’s adaptation in film… have finished reading the second in tri-series “The Girl Who Played With Fire” too and will put up a review about it soon.

For now, my rating for this book: 4/5 suggest just go, pick it up.

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