A young, wealthy girl disappears in a mysterious way. Her killer keeps taunting her grandfather, Henrik Vanger every year on her birthday for 40 years. Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist is hired by Vanger to solve the mystery. What Mikael encounters is truly unspeakable – a horror deeply rooted in an aristocratic, ruthless and demented family with many secrets to hide.
By the time I picked up this book, The Millennium Trilogy was fully out and the series had received such critical acclaim and rave reviews that I was apprehensive to begin with. The books had gone viral and so many friends asked if I have read them, that I feared soon I will be the only one left behind. Still I pondered for a considerable time before buying this book. But I must admit that The Millennium Trilogy has mostly lived up to its reputation. So much has already been said and written about the books and the characters that I will stick to the thing that I like most – The Mystery and leave the socio-political aspect for my subsequent reviews on the next two books.
I will not go into the plot for the fear of spilling the beans. Plus it has been well dissected by many before me. So instead I will list a few things that worked for me and the ones that were a bit dampener.
Things that worked for me –
- My kind of plot – It’s my favourite kind of mystery – The Locked Room Mystery. I like mysteries that build up slowly and take the readers along with them on a slow, winding and crooked path and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo delivers exactly that.
- Great characters – Though Millennium Trilogy is about Lisbeth Salander, she plays a second fiddle in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The main protagonist is Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist who is hired to find about the 40 year old bizarre disappearance (and probably murder) of Harriet Vanger, scion of a wealthy family. Would the books have been such a phenomenon without Lisbeth and Blomkvist? Perhaps, but I guess possibly not. It’s the characters that keep the book going. A treat to watch as the personalities of Lisbeth and Blomkvist, especially Lisbeth’s, develop in front of our eyes and one can’t keep thinking about what the next two books hold for Lisbeth and Mikael. Larsson has taken his time to build each character and most of the Vanger clan is a thoroughly despicable lot.
- Larsson’s narration is dark, chilling as the Swedish winter, sometimes deliberately dawdling and sometimes sprinting. There are plots within plots and the skeletons keep tumbling out of closet. By the time we reach the solution of a mystery, Larsson gives a fresh twist and before we heave a sigh of relief we are thrown on the tracks of a new mystery.
Things that I did not like –
- I knew the book is not for a casual reader but even after preparing my mind, it was highly disturbing to read the long, torturous and highly graphic description of sadism. Could it have been avoided? I don’t know but I would certainly have preferred less violence.
- I felt that the end of the Harriet Vanger mystery was a convenient one. Convenient for everybody – Vangers, Mikael and even police. Immediately after the mystery is solved everything is swept under the carpet quickly and Mikael and Lisbeth go on hunting after Wennerstrom.
Bu in spite of these reservations, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a must read and my most favourite from the series.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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