Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo–Stieg Larsson

ThegirlwiththedragontattooJudging by the number of people I’ve seen on the train reading Stieg Larsson’s books in the past two years, I know I’m late to the party on this one.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is this first of Larsson’s three published novels starring character Lisbeth Salander, an emotionally troubled woman who has a gift for computer hacking and digging into secrets she shouldn’t know.  Mikael Blomkvist is a magazine editor recently convicted of libel who is contracted to ghost write the autobiography of a reclusive former executive of one of Sweden’s wealthiest family businesses.  But the family has secrets that span seventy years, and among those is a murder.  Doing the research pulls Blomkvist and Salander together and puts both their lives in jeopardy.

This is one of those books that you can’t put down, and that’s probably why you see everybody reading it, even the people who don’t normally read this genre.  But it’s not without its flaws.  In fact, it has some big ones, that are hard to attribute to a translation issue.

First and foremost, Larsson switches point of views multiple times in chapters.  Sometimes in a single paragraph.  This is not a style issue, it’s a mistake editors should have caught.  At least half a dozen times I had to go back and reread passages to see who was thinking what.  Similarly, in stretches of dialog, Larsson fails to attribute dialog when multiple people are in a conversation, and you have to infer who said what.  Maybe that’s a European thing, but I have to believe its just a mistake that could have, and should have, been corrected.

This is definitely one of those books you talk about with other people once you have both read it.  It’s also one of those that makes you want to go and visit these places to see where things happened.  The description of Hedeby Island is wonderful and it sounds like a great place to at least visit.

Despite the mechanical issues with Dragon Tattoo, I am very interested in reading the next book in the series The Girl Who Played With Fire, and am saddened by the fact that Larsson died before he could many more in the series.  The story is engrossing and the characters well done.

Even if you don’t read a lot of crime fiction, this is something you should read.  Enjoy it.  I did.

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