A few days ago that I posted my excitement about starting to read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and now I’m going to tell you what I thought about it. In short, it was different from what I expected, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. After a little synopsis I will try to explain why.
Mikael Blomkvist, journalist and part-owner of left-wing magazine Millenium in Stockholm, has been taken to court over allegedly libellous accusations against the megalithic Wennerström Group. His career and the fate of his publication look to be in tatters, that is until he is head-hunted by Henrik Vanger to write the history of his family in return for a tidy sum and the chance to get back at Wennerström. However, when he takes on the job he finds himself in a complicated family drama involving Henrik’s niece Harriet, who went missing in the 1960’s. Lisbeth Salander (said girl with the tattoo), is a young woman with a penchant for nose-rings, slogan t-shirts and some serious personal-issues and is a researcher for a security firm. Lisbeth and Mikael’s paths cross as a result of the Vangar affair and they pair up to find-out the truth behind Harriet’s disappearance.
Why it wasn’t what I expected
- There was more scene-setting than I expected (i.e. it was a little slow at the beginning with lots of waffle about financial skull-duggery).
- It was grim, but less shocking than I thought it might be (maybe that’s just me).
- You don’t have to wait right until the end of the book to figure out what is going on.
Why I liked it
- Once I got through the initial scene-setting I quite liked the fact it was in-depth. When I’m enjoying a book it’s a good thing when it takes longer to read.
- I felt that the personalities in the book were interesting and pretty original and liked the fact that Mikael wasn’t your typical detective figure.
- I thought that there were several threads in the book – the case being investigated by Mikael, his conflict with Wennerström, and the back-story of Lisbeth who is a puzzle in herself – kept things fresh and added an extra layer of intrigue.
- It was a nice change of scene for me reading a murder story set in Sweden.
- I actually quite liked being able to figure out some of the plot myself, so I could mentally pat myself on the back.
- I felt as if there were still some mysteries unsolved at least about Lisbeth, and some things that might come back to haunt her so I am curious to read The Girl that Played with Fire.
Before reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I made sure to try to distance myself from the hype of it, in the sense that I didn’t truly believe that it would be the most amazing thriller ever – which it wasn’t – but it was a very enjoyable (if you like grim murder plots). I always take the praise on book jackets with a pinch of salt anyway. While for me, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t quite top Tom Rob Smith’s thriller-history hybrid, Child 44 or Sophie Hannah’s Little Face, I thought that it was very good indeed. It reminded me a little of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs in the way that it is actually well-written as well as being gripping.
Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo if you fancy a new angle on the thriller genre and want to know what all the hype is about.
Have you read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?