Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Well, I have finished it. This book that has been making headlines for quite some time now and this book that I have been resolutely keeping away from. I usually tend to hesitate reading books that have a lot of hype (I sort of feel bad for the writers when the books fall short as they sometimes do) surrounding them but this one was a gift from my cousin. He made it pretty clear: read it or else...

Mikael Blomkvist is an unlikely protagonist: he is a financial journalist and part owner of the Millenium magazine convicted for libel; he is a middle-aged divorcee who has a very fleeting relationship with his daughter and he is into a totally weird romantic entanglement with Erika Berger, his married colleague. Mikael Blomkvist does not elicit strong reactions of like or hate from the reader, the reader mostly feels neutral about him. He isn't a Rabbit Angstrom. On the other hand Lisbeth Salander, the second protagonist is all fire and ice. She is twenty four years old, distrustful, socially inept and declared incompetent by the local authorites and she is an expert hacker and security consultant.

Mikael Blomkvist is convicted for libel against a corrupt industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. His credibility as a journalist has plummeted and the magazine he co-owns with Erika Berger and Christer Malm has taken a huge hit. In the midst of this crisis he receives a call from Dirch Frode, lawyer of Henrik Vanger, former CEO of Vanger Corporation. Vanger offers Blomkvist a freelance job: to find out what happened to his grand niece Harriet Vanger who vanished forty years ago without a trace. Blomkvist leaves Stockholm and moves to the island of Hedeby for a year where he later joins forces with Lisbeth Salander. As the months progress, Blomkvist and Salander begin to unravel the mystery of Harriet Vanger's disappearance. There is a web of deceit, violence and perversity among the Vanger clan and nobody can be trusted. There is someone out there who will go to any lengths to stop Blomkvist and Salander from unravelling the mystery of what happened on Hedeby Island in the 1960s. Can they find out what happened to Harriet Vanger?

I loved reading the exploits of Blomkvist and Salander; the two are as different as chalk and cheese but together they make a terrific team. I am not a big fan of crime fiction but this one kept me up for the better part of last night. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo makes for a riveting read but that is not all it offers the reader. The reader is taken into a world where things like family, security and normalcy are hard to come by. Each person in the book has a story; one more horrible than the other and makes you realize there exist in our soceity some very real ills that just cannot be ignored. In my opinion Lisbeth Salander was the hero, she was such fun to read about! You might not like her but you have got to admire her guts.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a complex psychological thriller ( I am not sure if this is everyone's cup of tea; some parts are decidedly technical) written in rich prose and I am sorry that Stieg Larsson is not around to witness its success. Thank you for the book Mr. Larsson.