The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson – Book Review

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg LarssonMikael Blomqvist is a respected reporter and publisher of Millenium, a moderately successful financial reporting magazine that he owns with his long time lover Erika Berger.  His career and all of their prospects take a nose dive after he is convicted of making libelous statements against business magnate Hans Erik Wennerstrom.  Blomqvist is offered the opportunity to not only redeem himself, but to also make an enormous sum of money if he agrees to do some work over the course of the next year for Henrik Vanger, an aging business tycoon who wants him to write his family history and solve a crime that has been cold for forty years.

I am coming way late to this party, and almost everyone who had read this book warned me that the first hundred pages were really slow.  I was expecting that I would be tempted to do a little skimming until I reached the good part, so imagine how surprised I was to find myself completely engaged by the financial intrigue and character development happening at the beginning of the novel.  I very much enjoyed the set up that compelled Blomqvist to take Vanger up on his offer.  While I also enjoyed getting into the second mystery, I found some parts of it to be slow going because of all the different Vangers I encountered when Blomqvist starts his investigation into the family history.  A lot of the character names are either the same (dealing with generations of the same family) or very similar, they also have similar histories and most of this involved Swedish names and history with which I am not familiar, so the reading was interesting but also taxing at the same time.  There were parts mixed in with all of this that dragged for me.

Thankfully Larsson breaks this history up by interspersing it with establishing the character of Lisbeth Salander, investigator extraordinaire with whom the world has fallen in love with through these books.  Larsson delves into her troubled life, antisocial tendencies and her developing relationship with boss, Dragan Armansky.  It is also during this time that we learn how Salander is connected with Blomqvist and eventually becomes an integral part of his investigation.  Through Salander’s violent history the reader is slowly drawn into the history of violence against women in Sweden, and how it permeates the lives of the characters and their loved ones.

This was a compelling read.  In the beginning I was a bit daunted by the length, but somehow I still managed to read it in a few short days.  That says a lot.  It was hard for me to focus on anything else but the story, my own speculations and what was going to happen next with not only Blomqvist and Salander, but also some of the minor characters.  I have seen Blomqvist criticized as something of a caricature, but I don’t think Salander comes off that much better, but I did enjoy the way they were fleshed out and their motivations understood.

There is a lot here for mystery readers, finance gurus and history buffs alike as the story delves into serial killers and sadists, Sweden’s Nazi past, and intricate financial shenanigans.  A lot of the main points were answered, but as with any good first in a series, there are several stories and questions left dangling to be solved in upcoming books.  I am sorely tempted to start reading the next book, especially since this one left off in such a tender place, but I am going to give myself a breather before I jump back in again.


Read More Reviews At: Coffee and a Book ChickOvrelia’s Notes in the MarginMy Friend AmyLibrary QueueCaribousmomBookNAroundThe Boston Bibliophile

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  1. I just finished listening to this one on audio, and I loved it, too. The style reminded me a bit of some of my favorite British mystery authors, like P.D. James. I also had a bit of trouble keeping all the Vangers – and their relationships with one another – straight, but still loved it. I’m planning to listen to book two very soon.

  2. I’m even later than you to read this series! I have the first two on my shelves at home but just haven’t read them yet.

  3. I’ve decided to carve out time for this book in September or October…looking forward to it! Thanks for an insightful review.

  4. I recently read this one, too – and then I couldn’t resist and ended up jumping in and reading the second and third books, one right after the other! I think the third one is my favorite, but they’re all really good.

  5. OK, so I just expelled a huge sigh of relief. So glad you liked it! I really thought it was something special. I read so many mystery thrillers, and this one set itself apart in so many ways. Now you need to rent the DVD. It will rock your world. And also, just so you know, I loved the first installment, but the second was my favorite! So don’t wait too long!

  6. I agree completely — I was a tad put off by the length, but I read it so quickly! I’m glad to hear that you liked this book, too — and I’m so glad I’m following your blog now, we tend to have the same tastes, yay!

  7. Glad to see you liked this one. I still haven’t started it and not sure I will…something about the whole, everyone’s into so not sure it will live up to the hype thing 🙂

  8. Wow, Great review. You really summed it up good. I think I love your review style 🙂
    I have read this and the 2nd one. I love Lisbeth too.
    I am waiting to order my copy of the 3rd one!

  9. I love this series immensly. I am so disappointed that there will be no further books. There is just something about the way Larsson writes, as well as the gritty characters he portrays, that makes these books so engrossing for me.

  10. So glad you all liked it!

    My name is Mark Thwaite and I work for Quercus, the UK publisher of Stieg Larsson (also a longstanding blogger in my own right at…

    I’ve just created a new Larsson website:

    Hope you like it! I’ll be creating more fan-focussed areas to the site over the next few weeks and months…

  11. I’ve yet to read these books but a friend keeps telling me I need to. Everyone seems to love them but for some reason they just don’t appeal to me. Maybe someday…

  12. I’m so glad you loved this book! You’re not the last person to hop on this bus, Nicole, I promise! There were PLENTY of people in the airports reading it last week. The next book hits the ground running, so be prepared for a page turned with FIRE!

  13. I have this series on my wish list and on my Christmas list (for the hubby to buy me). Unfortunately I’ll have to start prioritizing that list soon as if he buys me all of them, we may have to miss out on vacation for the next few years. 🙂

  14. I still have yet to read this book. So your not the only one ‘late to the party.’ I really enjoyed your review. Hoping I get to read this before the end of the year. I am craving another really good mystery. This seems to be like an awesome interesting mix.

  15. I’m like MillyMarie–I have yet to read this one so you’re ahead of me! I think this is one of those books that I dug my heels in about–“I’m not going to read this book just because everyone else is.” But I’m getting pretty tired of being out of the loop and even my mom liked it so it’s probably time to borrow it from her.