"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

TITLE: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
AUTHOR: Stieg Larsson

I've never had the best luck reading megahit bestsellers, the books everyone is raving about. I'm too often disappointed. And this one started out in an ordinary fashion, with slow-moving prose, that I was beginning to fear the same would be true for it. It's told in a somewhat awkward omniscient voice and financial matters don't much interest me, but about 40 or so pages, I was hooked.

There are really two stories in one. Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative financial reporter, has just been found guilty of libel, a judgment that includes a jail term. He knows the man he libeled is guilty, but he has no way to prove it. When Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of a wealthy family, asks Mikael to look into the disappearance of his niece nearly 40 years ago, Blomkvist wants no part of it, thinking the old man's obsessive belief that someone in his family killed the teen and disposed of the body is the ranting of an old fool. But he takes the job, anyway, thinking his cover story -- that he's working on a book about the Vanger family -- might be worth his while. Plus, Vanger has promised him information that will prove his nemesis, the man he libeled, truly is guilty of fraud. Blomkvist concentrates on the family chronicle, but soon, he's drawn into the mystery.

Lisbeth Salander, under guardianship despite being in her 20s, is considered socially dysfunctional. She's also a topnotch hacker and when Blomkvist needs a research assistant, Vanger's lawyer, who had previous dealings with Salander, recommends her for the job. Together, Blomkvist and Salander piece together old and odd bits of information until they uncover the truth.

I was pleased that one of my theories panned out. I tend to either not bother guessing, or I come up with many ideas that are wrong. I didn't figure out all of it, but it was most satisfying to have come up with what happened to Vanger's niece, even if I didn't work out the motive and details. Figuring even that much out did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed it so much, I'm already reading the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire.