The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
As a rule, I try to avoid bestsellers, particularly the ones in recent years – need I mention Twilight? Talk about literary bilge… anyway. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo put me off from the start, I thought the title was lacking and I failed to see what all the fuss was about when I read the blurb. When I eventually sat down and watched the film, I was admittedly intrigued. I enjoyed the thick plot – which is above all things unexpected as a good crime novel should be – and I particularly liked the character Lisbeth Salander because of her style (bit of a given if you know me) and her personality. I watched the film a couple of times before finally getting myself along to a bookshop for a copy of it. £3 from a second hand bookshop is a bargain and in hindsight I wouldn’t mind paying full price for this novel but I was sceptical at first.
Before I say anymore about the book, one quick comment about the film; after having read the book, m y suggestion would be to read the book prior to watching the film as there is a lot more to the story than what the film portrays – a lot more. I know films cut a lot out and change things but I was surprised at how much they had changed for this particular novel. Also, watch it in Swedish with subtitles, not dubbed English. Dubs never – and I stress never – do a film justice. Also, Swedish is a lovely language to listen to, why would anyone want to listen to dubs over Swedish?
Henrik Vagner has been receiving framed flowers on his birthday for decades since the disappearance of his brother’s daughter Harriet whom he considered like a daughter. He is obsessed with her disappearance although years of searches and investigations have left no clues as to where she is or even if she is alive at all. He enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, an accomplished journalist and publisher who has recently been sentenced to three months in prison and large fines after losing a libel case involving allegations against billionaire businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Vagner asks Blomkvist to investigate the murder of his neice as well as to write a family history of the Vagner family.
Prior to meeting Blomkvist, Vagner has Blomkvist investigated by Milton Security and the task is allocated to Lisbeth Salander, a genius computer hacker emotionally damaged by her past with a history of violence which has left her under guardianship even though she is now an adult. Her current guardian suddenly passes away leaving her with a new man, Nils Bjurman, with control over her life. from the start she dislikes him and he is considerably less liberal and understanding than her former guardian and he abuses his position of power over Lisbeth.
The two characters are eventually flung together to help solve the mystery of Harriet Vagner and discover her disappearance has links to a series of grotesque murders as they unravel the family’s dark past.
This book is genuinely one of those books you struggle to put down. I found myself reading it whilst eating meals and thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. It is full to the brim with mystery and unexpected events in the plot – and I’m saying that when I saw the film first – that keep you hooked and wanting more. The two main characters are well thought out and quite unlike any other’s I have encountered which was refreshing to say the least. Larsson has excelled himself with these characters – too many characters in novels nowadays are superficial and transparent whereas these two seemed almost real. I took an instant liking to Lisbeth although I found her disconcertingly like myself in many ways…but I won’t delve into that. She is wonderfully strong-willed, hates people who use and abuse others and she is extremely socially withdrawn. Nevertheless, I found myself ardently admiring this character.
I never thought I would enjoy a bestselling crime novel this much, but I was pleasantly surprised and I would highly recommend that you give this book a try. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the next two books in the series in the near future. One comment I will make is that although the film is good, there is a LOT more to the book that they left out or changed – as is often the case with films but oddly I felt a lot more had been left out of the film than was necessary. The book is much more complex and in ways much more disturbing and explicit thus I would suggest reading the book prior to watching the film so you can better compare the two.
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