The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

April 20, 2011

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I consider SVB over at The Digerati Life to be a friend. I’ve never actually met her in person, but we have a lot of interests in common (perhaps most notably a fascination with crime and forensics). We chat back and forth over email, and when she recommended a particular book, I gave it serious consideration, despite having a large backlog of unread books in my library.

The book was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I was aware of the book. It was an international best-seller, and the author, Stieg Larsson, died before the book (and the subsequent sequels) were printed. The circumstances surrounding Larsson’s estate (more about that in a guest article I wrote for SVB) added some intrigue for me. I nabbed a copy at Target for $5.99. Hey, I’ll give it a shot.

Now that I’m finished, I’m happy to report that it was one of the better books I have read in a while. The book has something for everyone – mystery, romance, murder, fraud, family squabbles – and much more. Even better, everyone seemed to use a Mac!

What I liked:

Culture – The book was written by a Swedish author, so I learned some things about Sweden by reading the book. I was barely into the book before I hopped onto the internet to check the value of the Swedish krona in US dollars. I pegged the value at about 16 cents and used this for currency translations. Then I got to the end of the book, where the topic comes upm in the text – the exchange rate being used is just under 10 kronor to the dollar.  Hmm.  I also learned that there is a statute of limitations for murder in Sweden. Avoid getting caught for long enough, and you’re home free. (What??!?!?)

Characters – The girl mentioned in the title is Lisbeth Salander, a young woman who works as a private investigator – putting her hacking skills to good use, She works an irregular schedule and lives an irregular life. She is a victim – or is she?

I’d argue that Lisbeth isn’t even the lead character in the book. Much of the book centers around Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter finds himself convicted of libel at the beginning of the book. The magazine that he co-owns is on the brink of ruin – can Blomkvist and his partners avoid financial doom?

That’s the tip of the iceberg. The book contains a rich cast of characters – hackers, lawyers, murders amongst them.

The story – In general, I need to be told an interesting story in order to enjoy a book. This book has a great story. Actually, a few great stories. There’s the story of Lisbeth’s own life, the story of Mikael’s personal and professional life, and thirty five years in the lives of the Vanger family, who are central figures in the plot. Although the threads do cross at times, they are actually separate and distinct stories that could hold up as their own individual novellas.

Verdict – Big thumbs up! I’m going to begin reading the second book in the series (The Girl Who Played With Fire) immediately.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 18:27:38

    I enjoyed the book, too, although it is something you really need to read in big chunks, as opposed to bits in free moments here and there. I did the latter, and really had a hard time keeping track of the characters (everybody in the Vanger family). I think my enjoyment of it suffered as a result, as I didn’t really get into it until about the last 20%. I still plan to read the next one, though, once I get caught up on a couple of other purchases that have been sitting on my Kindle.


  2. kosmo
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 22:12:09

    I agree – there are definitely a lot of Vangers. Even more than the actual characters, trying to keep the relationships straight was difficult. The copy of the book I read had a handy little Vanger family tree, which came in very handy.

    I have just barely started with The Girl Who Played with Fire. So far, so good.


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