I’ve had this on my reading list for a while, but decided to move it up both because I enjoyed my last murder mystery so much and so I could finally watch and compare the Swedish and English versions of the film. I haven’t watched them yet, but I may do a comparison review once I do. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a 590 page mystery novel.
I really enjoyed the way this book started out — with the mystery of receiving a pressed and framed flower every year on the receiver’s birthday. Was it a taunt? Was it a hint or secret? I couldn’t tell, and so it was a great way to get me interested in the mystery.
I felt like there were two simultaneous plots going on in this book. The first and most (?) important was that of the mystery of Harriet Vanger and Henrik Vanger’s searching for her. The Vangers live on an island and were having a reunion of sorts one day when suddenly people start noticing that Harriet has been missing all day, and no one knows where she has gone. Due to a convenient accident on the only bridge leading off the island, many are led to believe she has been murdered and the body hidden.
The second main plot is that of Mikael Blomkvist and his vendetta through the Millenium (his paper) against Erik Wennerström. In the beginning of the novel, he publishes a piece accusing Wennerström of financial misdealings, and is slapped with a libel suit and loses. So his acceptance of taking on the Harriet Vanger case rides heavily on his need to get away from the paper for a while.
After everything to do with the mystery is solved or tidied up or has at least of semblance of being so, they finally take care of Blomkvist’s Wennerström problems. The last 90 pages of the book were probably my favorite. Although the murder mystery was interesting, I did not feel like I could have solved it (though my vague guesses in the beginning weren’t too far off the mark). So the parts dealing with Wennerström, who was a frustrating character, were really satisfying.
One thing I don’t really understand is why most of the ‘strong’ female characters want to have sex with Blomkvist. I really just don’t get it. They are all really frank and open about their sexuality, which is great, but I didn’t see it as very plausible. Or maybe I just wanted one strong female character who was satisfied by someone else or by other interests. This isn’t a major issue, but I feel it’s worth mentioning.
Although I did enjoy most of the characters and felt the narrative really fit their personalities, the story moved a little slowly for my tastes. It was by no means a hassle to try to finish the book, but I was also not riveted into staying up all night to finish it. Overall, this was a solid book, and I can definitely see why it was adapted into multiple films. It was interesting, and I will probably end up reading the rest of the trilogy at some point, but I’m not so invested in the characters that I feel I have to read them any time soon. If you’re a big fan of mysteries, I would feel comfortable recommending this to you… but then you’ve probably already read it, eh?