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A book by any other title would smell as sweet...
This book is a great read, the first in a series of three. It's currently at the top of the bestseller list here in Spain.
Action & Morality in Northern Europe
Living abroad and browsing through bookshops is sometimes an exercise in translation: you recognize the author's name but you often have to use your imagination or check out the original title to figure out whether you've already read the book in English.
I don't know Swedish but it seems to me that the Spanish as well as Catalan title of this book - "The Men who Hated Women" - is closer to the original. Is the English title more politically correct?
I was fascinated, horrified and entertained by this book. The level of detail on many fronts, especially about technology, intrigued me, and the plot is packed with twists and surprises. One of many questions raised by the book concerns morality. There are different levels of its presence and absence. I found myself excusing what, in the US at least, is considered immoral behavior (spoiler alert) such as incest, adultery, and theft, in light of some horrendously repugnant, misogynistic conduct. Stieg Larsson, who died right before this book was first published, was dedicated to exposing and combating neofascism and right wing extremism in Europe, and that could explain some of the moral relativity issues in his story. Oh, yes, and the title character…she is a curious and compelling individual, not totally fleshed out, who begins to develop at the end of the story. I regret that there won’t be a sequel.
Didn't Pass the Test
[Note from BookBrowse: In fact ,there will be a sequel - two of them. Just before he died the author delivered all three books in the Millenium sequence to his publisher. The books are already published in some parts of Northern Europe, and will be available in the USA over the next year or so.]
I love a long book rich in characters, challenging plot and layered with ideas, so I had great hope for this book. I was very enthusiastic for 1/2 of it thinking, AT LAST, a good book! However, it began to go downhill for me and continued on that path until the end.
Five Stars, Deserve Each 'n Every one of 'em!
Stieg Larsson's writing style and language skills are good and he started off with strong character and plot development. The story line seemed believable at first but as the various plots played out, I became less and less interested and engaged.
With the various threads to follow I thought it would knit together an exceptional good tale. The potential was there at first. However at the end I felt like the author was stretching to write just a long book with elements of mystery, intrigue, horror, love, sex/violence (anyone could guess the cat component!) Even the list of Vanger family members provided me with substance and I like that technique from an author. However, I did not develop a "relationship" with even the most central ones.
After a book passes the language/writing style/believability qualifications, I ask myself the following "test" questions: 1) do I care what happens to these people? I did not; 2) if I lost the book would I find another one so I could finish the story? No; 3) would I recommend this to a friend? No; and finally 4) would I read another book by this author? No. I will give this book to a friend, but it only rated a 3 at best with me.
Wow -- this was a terrific read! This novel kept me on my toes, but I didn't want to race through it ... I wanted to savor it, to think about who might be the bad guy (or gal), and to ponder on the two "heroes": a smart, determined and tenacious reporter, and an enigmatic, difficult, and brilliant young woman.
Exciting mystery by a Swedish author
We have some great characters here, particularly the aging patriarch Henrik Vanger, and the fascinatingly peculiar and complicated Lisbeth. I also liked that even peripheral characters had a great deal of depth; this adds a lot of flavor to the novel! The plot is surprising, suspenseful, and harrowing, and it moves right along. Really a satisfying read, and I highly recommend it!
My only complaints, admittedly minor: the insipid title of the novel, and truly one of the least attractive book jackets I have ever laid eyes on. OK, so I'm a little "waspish!"
I had never heard of this novel when I received it, although it has been a bestseller all over Europe. I had a long plane ride from Seattle to Tokyo and needed a long book to get me through it. What a delightful surprise this novel ended up being. I fell in love with the characters, especially Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. I didn't sleep on the plane because I couldn't put the book down. It is filled with scandals, politics, computer hacking, and murder. I am usually good about guessing endings to novels and I was surprised at the ending. I can't wait until the other two in the trilogy are translated into English.
Quirky Characters in a Fast Paced Mystery
If you like your mysteries hard to put down, you'll love "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo". This was a "one weekend book" for me. I couldn't wait to finish it, to find out all its secrets. I didn't hate to say goodbye to any of its characters & they didn't linger with me like some books, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride while it lasted.
A Serious Page-Turner
To call this book a "crime thriller" or a "techno thriller" or even a "murder mystery" is to do it an injustice. It starts out a bit slowly but builds by midpoint to one of those books you just can't put down. What at first looks like a closed-room mystery turns out to be a very meticulously built set of parallel stories that eventually come together in unexpected and explosive ways. The character of techno-punk, deeply damaged Lisbeth Salander has to be one of the most intriguing heroines to have graced the page in recent years.
Book Titles Are Important
This book is not about Lisbeth Salander. It is about Mikael Blomkvist. The Blomkvist tale is highly improbable: I can't imagine hiring a journalist -- one on the losing end of a libel suit, disgraced, bound-for-jail -- to research and write the history of a prominent, albeit highly-dysfunctional family.
Worse, Larsson's penchant for using 20 words where one or two (or none) will do makes for a rather complex story that's sometimes very difficult to follow, and so a trial to read. (One hopes -- for clarity -- the published version will include a map of Hedeby Island.)
It's hard to say who the book would appeal to, but some knowledge on the reader's part of Swedish society and media is a must. The book's use of everyday detail (way too much, in my view) reminds one of Sue Grafton's novels. Some of the better scenes (typically those featuring Salander!) read a little like Thomas Perry.
But, bottom line, Stieg Larsson is no Henning Mankell...and Mankell to me is the gold standard in Northern European crime fiction.