The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, 9 of 52

I enjoyed my latest read, another gift for my birthday from my family. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is quite an iconic book at the moment. The story of how the book became published after Larsson’s untimely death is well known and adds to the mystique of this book in some way. I think it imbued it with an undertone of foreboding which wasn’t necessarily fulfilled in the book; as a crime thriller I like the build up of foreboding. This is the first book in the series and I understand that these characters will be a constant in the trilogy, that doesn’t bother me now, but I can see that I may become a little frustrated with a couple of them.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a romp through the world of serial killers, extortion, publishing and the vagaries of being an individual whose life is entrusted to the state. I enjoyed the characters of Blomkvist and Salander and Frode, however, thought that the bad guys were a bit too obvious for my liking. I was hoping for a real twist at the end, but I even guessed the victims fate, which I wont say to not spoil it for those who haven’t read the book.  I’m no genius, so I wouldn’t be surprised if others have had this same response. It didn’t feel too dissimilar to a Dan Brown in forumla, I am sure there are those who would disagree with me and want to strike me down with lightning. However, I must say I found the writing quite clunky at times and quite prosaic. I’m not sure, this could be a function of the translation from Swedish, however the construction of the whole story suggests a very ordered mind wrote this book. Wikipedia says that the Swedish title of the book was called ‘Men who hate Women’ – quite a departure from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I can imagine what Larsson’s personality may have been like from this book, as everything seems to be so neatly compacted and orderly. Even those scenes of violence have the same aspect of obsessive compulsive behaviour, everything is rounded off, even the unanswered questions about photos etc dont feel incomplete. I didn’t get the feeling of suspense and thrill that I wanted. Don’t mistake my criticism to be dismissing the books craft, I did get a lot of enjoyment out of the story and the characters on a whole. But I never felt really questioning of what was happening, it was almost as if I was Blomkvist or Salander at whatever point in the story they became active. This was a big strength of the book, that I felt I was able to walk in the shoes of the characters. Is there such a thing as ‘projected empathetic reading/writing’, this could be a new genre or authorship skill?

What did this story leave me with? Well I can say that I am officially paranoid after reading this book; I’m imagining someone hacking into my computer to steal my passwords, identity and secrets. Actually, I do realise that I am having a fun flight of fantasy; that a ‘Salander’ is out there somewhere uncovering my life. The reality is actually my 10 year old son hacking into our passwords so he can override the parental time controls on the computer; we are at once proud and worried. I also am left wanting to read more about Salander, will she spill the beans about her mysterious past and childhood, what dark secrets lie there? Questions to be answered in the second book of the trilogy I hope.

Readability 9 out of 10

Cant put down rating 9 out of 10

Recommend to others 8 out of 10

Do I want to read another book by this author – yes I most definitely want to read the next in the series this year. And there is a film about to be released late March in Australia.


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