Rummanah Aasi
      I’m a very picky reader, especially when it comes to a good crime fiction novel. I’d like a novel of this genre to have something more than a mystery at its center. It needs to have interesting characters that are not exactly black and white, a mystery with a purpose instead of having one just because it is required of the genre, and last but not least, thought provoking. Luckily for me, I read a really good Swedish crime fiction novel called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, which is an international best seller and a recently adapted into a movie.

Description: In late 2002, a highly regarded reporter, Mikail Blomkvist, has been convicted of libel for his exposé of crooked financier Wennerstrom. After Mikail is found guilty in court, another Swedish financier, who is also a rival of Wennerstrom, wants to hire Blomkvist to solve the decades-old disappearance of his niece (who is presumed dead) from the family’s island compound in the north of Sweden. If Blomkvist works on the project for a year, his employer will give him information to get back at Wennerstrom. Blomkvist reluctantly takes the job and quickly discovers the many shocking secrets of an extremely dysfunctional family. Helping him on the case is the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, a ward of the state who happens to be Sweden’s most formidable computer hacker and a fearless foe of women-hating men.

Review: As expected, the first two parts of the novel are very slow moving since the author is establishing his characters and giving background information. At many times, it seems there’s just too much information that wasn’t necessary, especially in the case of the financial background that really went over my head. Although there is plenty of family drama and financial intrigue in the first part of the book, the book doesn’t take flight until the two characters, Mikeal and Lisbeth, meet and collaborate on the mystery. Mikeal is a likeable character with obvious flaws. He is initially unsure about playing detective, but he starts to care about the people involved once new information about a long forgotten case seems to be a lost cause.
    What caught my eye and kept me reading was the character of Lisbeth. I instantly loved her character along with her punk attire and “don’t mess with me” attitude. She is a complicated, brilliant character, who has a dark and harrowing past which readers only see a glimpse at a time. She is both strong, but yet has very reasonable insecurities, which are highlighted by how she views men in particular and how she views other people. I expect that Lisbeth’s character will be closely examined in the next two books in this trilogy. Unfortunately, readers won’t be able to continue with these characters after the third and final book due to the untimely death of the author. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that some readers may not feel satisfied as how the case is handled because it’s not black and white. I, for one, thought the ending was realistic and added another dimension to the characters and the novel. What did you think?

Words of Caution: Since this is an adult book, it contains adult situations. Though most of the violence takes place off screen, the details of some of the murders are disturbing, particularly those involved with women such as rape and sexual abuse. The book also contains strong language and sexual content. I would recommend this book to only mature, strong teen readers and adults who love a meaty crime fiction novel.

Rating: 4 stars

Additional Information:

  • If you would like to use this book for a book club, here is a discussion guide.

  • Information about the movie such as trailers and reviews can be found at the Internet Movie Database website.
If you like this book, try: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson or  Into the Woods by Tana French
3 Responses
  1. Nena Says:

    I'm excited that you gave this book 4 stars.
    The day that you posted your blog my mother in law brought me this book and I made a mental note to come back and check out the review. I can't wait to start reading it. She also brought me "The Likeness" by Tana French, any words on that one?

    Blog is looking great!

  2. Safoora Says:

    I have to say, while I am enjoying this book (almost done with it), I'm not loving it. Some of the violence is just not sitting well with me, and it's not even extremely detailed. I do want to read the second and third books because I do really like Mikail and Lisbeth and I'm interested in learning more about how Lisbeth came to be who she is.
    I just don't know if I can deal with any more rape.

  3. @Nena: I've heard of that book and have seen it paired with the "Dragon Tattoo" a lot of times. I'll check it out and let you know!

    @Safoora: Yes, the violence against women is very disturbing. I will warn you that "The Girl Who Played With Fire" is just as or even more disturbing as the first one. Like you, I only continued the series because I loved the flawed characters.

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