Since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo recently came out in the theaters, I thought I would review the book for those who haven’t read this entertaining novel. The story starts when Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of an investigative financial magazine called Millennium is found guilty of libel by a Swedish court for the article he published about a shady financier. The dense back story on Blomkvist’s predicament unfortunately slowed down the narrative to the point that I began to wonder whether the book may have been overhyped. But twenty pages into the novel when the intriguing Lisbeth Salander is introduced, the story takes off like a rocket.
Disgraced and derided by the Swedish press (they dubbed him Kalle Blomkvist, after a fictional amateur boy sleuth in Astrid Lingren’s novels), Blomkvist takes a temporary leave of absence from Millennium. Out of work, he is hired (enticed actually) by Eric Vanger of the venerable Vanger Corp to investigate a cold case that happened thirty years before: the disappearance of sixteen-year-old Harriet Vanger, the likely heir to the Vanger fortune. Blomkvist accepts the job and searches for an assistant to help him with his research.
Enter punk-haired and severely underdeveloped Lisbeth Salander (yes, the girl with the dragon tattoo, among her other body art), a mistrustful, anti-social, and oft-violent twenty-five-year-old woman who has been declared mentally incompetent by the state and placed under guardianship of a state-appointed lawyer. What the government doesn’t know is that Salander is a highly intelligent protégé, a kind of wonder girl, who secretly works as an investigative researcher for the biggest security firm in Sweden. Through his unthreatening wiles, Blomkvist is able to earn Salander’s trust and the two of them embark on an investigative journey that uncovers a sinister Vanger family history that eventually endangers both their lives.
This book is fast-paced with extremely well-drawn characters, especially Salander whose flawed but endearing personality readers can’t help but root for. The relationship between Blomkvist and Salander is touching but tense, which adds to the sexual intrigue. Though the descriptions are sometimes overwritten, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.