The Carl Online

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review by carlmagazine
September 30, 2010, 9:40 am
Filed under: Literature

By Marika Cristofides

You may have seen the book’s glossy, acidic cover on the best-sellers table at Barnes and Noble this summer. You may have seen your culturally-hipper-than-thou grandmother reading the book, as I did. You may have bought the book in a futile attempt to out-hip your grandmother.  You may even have read the book.

Written by recently deceased Swedish political activist, journalist, and avid science-fiction fan Stieg Larsson as part of his “Millenium Trilogy,” The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a page-turning crime-thriller that follows the investigative efforts of two unlikely partners; passionate financial journalist Michael Blomqvist and pint-sized tough girl Lisbeth Salander. The two spend the majority of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo investigating the disappearance of wealthy heiress Harriett Vanger off of an island in a sort of Miss Marple locked room situation. Larsson died in 2004, missing his own rise to second best-selling author in the world in 2008. Published in Sweden in 2005, by March 2010 his trilogy had sold 27 million copies in more than 40 countries.

In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Blomqvist describes a book saying that it was “…uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor – there had been no time for any fine polishing – but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice.” Although Larsson’s own book entertains, the writing is nothing special. The first couple of chapters are filled with finance and political jargon, which gives the plot a lumbering start. Blomqvist, who improbably beds many of the book’s women, seems like a male wish-fulfillment fantasy. As my grandmother argued, certain scenes can be disturbingly violent to the point of pulp. And the sheer volume of open-faced sandwiches the two main characters consume while sleuthing is improbable at best.

Fortunately for Larsson, Lisbeth Salander provides the “fury that no reader could help but notice.” Based partly on the Swedish children’s book character Pippi Longstocking, Lisbeth follows a personal code of ethics that leads her on revenge missions that are both cringe-inducing and enjoyable. The capability with which she conducts her affairs – hacking computers and using kickboxing techniques to fend off villains, is supremely satisfying. This tough quality mixed with the vulnerability that she shows in her unorthodox relationships makes her an extremely compelling character. You want to be her friend, but you also think she might kick you in the head. And she completely steals the show from Mikael Blomqvist. So if you don’t like politics, journalism, slow-burning mysteries, or sandwiches you should read the book for Lisbeth Salander – a fresh face in crime-fiction.


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