2009: #25 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

dragontattoo Book #25 was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.  The back of the book reads:

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.

It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.

It’s a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.

This is a book I almost gave up.  I listened to it on audio, and a few hours in I felt like I was still listening to background and set-up and was anxious for the story to get started.  Thankfully, once it got rolling it was a snowball I couldn’t stop. Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander are very interesting characters… very alike in some ways, polar opposites in others.  I spent a great deal of time wondering how their stories would be tied together, and I wasn’t disappointed when they eventually were. The mystery of Harriet’s disappearance was also very interesting, and the whole story is nothing you would ever expect when the investigation begins. I just had a couple of problems with it… the author tends to refer to everyone by their last name, which is much harder for me to follow.  For some reason, I just don’t remember last names as well as first names, so every time someone was mentioned that we hadn’t heard of in a while, I had to think for a minute about who they were talking about.  Also, there’s a bit of a loose end with the Harriet investigation that I was expecting to be tied up that never was. I was expecting a small twist that never came.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this and look forward to reading the next two (assuming the third makes it through translation to English). The ending to this one was sad in a way I didn’t expect, and I’m anxious to see what it means for Blomkvist and Salander. If you start reading this and struggle a bit through the beginning, just stick it out… It gets so much better!

Audiobook length: 16hrs 19min | Approximate word count: 144,000

2008: One Mississippi (Mark Childress)
2007: Deal Breaker (Harlan Coben)
2006: Witness in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: Ceremony in Death (J.D. Robb)

Used in these Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge 2009; 1st in a Series Challenge; 2009 Audiobook Challenge; The 999 Challenge; A-Z 2009 Challenge;

8 thoughts on “2009: #25 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

  • March 8, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    This is in my TBR pile and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  • March 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    You can blame me for using last names rather than first most places. The Swedes tend to use BOTH names almost always, which seems unnecessary to English speakers. I usually use first names if there is a closer relation between characters. Then again, this might be something the editor did! Another problem is that the publisher left out the two maps that were in the original, which makes it much easier to follow what happens on the island…

    Be assured that there is a twist to the Harriet story, but I think it comes in book 2.

    And all 3 volumes were translated in 2006; publishing is often a slow business.

    Enjoy the rest,


  • March 10, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I enjoyed this book, too. I have to agree with you, though, that it starts pretty slowly. It’s definitley worth slogging through the beginning, though.

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  • January 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I work in an indie bookstore and give the same advice whenever I recommend this book (which I do – all the time). I say “stick with it through the trial in the beginning – it’ll be worth it!”

    Glad to see great minds think alike.

  • June 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Definitely a beautiful novel, and I was wondering about the word count; that’s even more than I thought! It does start slow, and to anyone about to read it: GET THROUGH THE BEGINNING! It’s so, so worth it!


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