Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson

Financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist’s, life is falling apart. Not only is he being sued for libel and facing jail time and mounting financial losses, his boss (who happens to be his sometimes lover) is forced into accepting his resignation.

When he is at his lowest point, Blomkvist is approached with a curious offer of employment. Henrik Vanger is a wealthy, retired CEO of a major Swedish company, Vanger Cooperation.

Vanger wants Blomkvist  to use his trained journalists eye and find out what happened to his niece who mysteriously disappeared in the 1960’s. Blomkvist doesn’t really have a whole lot of options….he needs the money Vanger is offering but Vanger also possessed the golden ticket: Vanger can give Blomkvist the proof he needs to prove his innocents in the libel case.

Blomkvist accepts Vanger’s offer of employment but admits he is unlike to discover anything that hasn’t already been reported. Blomkvist is not to let anyone in the Vanger family know he is there to solve what is now likely a murder case—if anyone asks Blomkvist is to tell them he is working on the Vanger family biography.

Blomkvist travels from Stockholm to Hedeby Island which essentially is an island of Vanger’s. He sets to work trying to solve the case but quickly discovers he needs help….lots of it.

In Stockholm, Lisbeth Salander works for a security firm performing background investigations. She is the most skilled researcher her boss has ever met. She can dig up dirt on anyone.

But underneath her brilliant mind lurks a disturbed young woman. Salander is a ward of the state as she was deemed mentally incapable of taking care of herself. Though she manages her money fine, she is not what normal society would consider ‘mainstream’.

Salander was hired by Vanger’s attorney to do a background investigation on Blomkvist before he was hired by Henrik Vanger, and the attorney was very impressed by her skills. He also asked her to research the libel case against Blomkvist to see if there was anything worth noting.

When Blomkvist discovers a background check was done on him, he demands to see the report. When he is done reading it, he has decided one thing….he must have Salander as his research assistant on the Vanger case.

I have had this book on my TBR shelf forever! I’ve seen the movie so I know what happens more or less, however in my experience the book is always better than the film! One reason that I have held off on reading this is the hype (I often find that I am let down when there is too much hype over the book) and some of the negative reviews I have read about this book. Most of the reviews say the same thing….the first 100 pages or so are completely boring because it’s all about the financial side of the story.

For me personally, I didn’t find the financial set up boring or tedious. It plays a role in the overall story and was important to understanding Blomkvist’s character. The one thing that I found annoying was the lack of background info on Salander.

I loved her character and found her most intriguing but we didn’t really get to know HER. We know that she’s a non-conformist and a little bit of a rebel. She operates with a ‘devil may care’ attitude and often takes matters into her own hands. She has an incredible memory but lacks the understanding or perhaps simply doesn’t care about social graces. I would really like to know more about her and what makes her tick.

At times the book felt more about Blomkvist than Salander and I really think that Salander is the more intriguing of the pair…..I hope we learn more about her and her past in the following books in the series.

Blomkvist was your typical “investigator”– capable, honest, and smart. But I didn’t feel like her was entirely flawless. I liked that he too had his secrets and doubts about himself. I liked him but I didn’t love him, Salander was easily my favorite character. She was brilliant, talented, and cunning….I wished I had a tenth of her talent, I wanted to be her! That’s how I know she was a strong protagonist/heroine.

I thought the mystery plot was intriguing and fresh. I liked the idea of dark family secrets of the rich and famous…..and the Vanger family is full of sinister secrets and characters. The fact that the mystery spread over a significant period of time added a lot to the plot for me. I found myself wondering how much the time had affected the memories of the characters….it created a similar feeling that an unreliable narrator does for the reader.

There were things about the plot that I found confusing but mostly because it is a foreign book. At times I felt like the translation explained too much and dummied down excessively for the reader. For example when they are explaining what an iPod was. I also wasn’t familiar with any of the laws or customs in Sweden. They talked a lot about the libel suit and the financial world in Sweden and I admittedly I was lost from time to time.

Besides a few minor distractions, I’m intrigued by the series to say the least. It is a fresh, modern thriller that clearly appeals to the masses. It was fast paced once I got into it and past the initial financial set up. Blomkvist and Salander make a good team and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop in the coming books.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson

  • Kindle Edition, 658 pages
  • Published September 16th 2008 by Vintage (first published 2005)
  • Review copy provided by: my personal collection

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a provacative crime fiction novel)

Genre: Contempo lit, thriller, mystery, crime fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:

People always have secrets. It’s just a matter of finding out what they are.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson

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