The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is just one of many books I’ve read recently set in Scandanavia. I’ve read a Danish detective series for a few years, and this Swedish thriller was a natural title for me to pick up. But it is a thriller with a difference, and I see the same quirks and differences in the Danish-set books as well. A different and interesting way of writing I find fresh and very appealling.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has two strong protagonists. The first, Mikael Blomkvist, is a financial journalist and editor-in-chief of his own co-owned magazine, who starts the book being sentenced to pay damages and serve three months in prison for defamation of character. He published a damning article on a highly regarded businessman, and has been taken to court for it, and lost. How that came to be and why slowly unfolds through the book.
The second protagonist is the girl herself, tattoo (actually more than one) and all, Lisbeth Salander, a top researcher at one of Sweden’s best security firms. Despite her nose, ear and eyebrow rings, tattoos and interesting dress sense, Salander’s boss has come to realize that Lisbeth is the best there is when it comes to research – there is nothing she cannot somehow discover.
We first meet Lisbeth when she hands over a requested report on the recently disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to a client. She is then asked to research the man he supposedly defamed. Lisbeth is only to happy to do so, because there are some questions she has as to why Blomkvist did not try to defend himself better in court, and she is curious. When the request is cancelled, and the client tells her boss he no longer wants the report, Lisbeth isn’t all that inclined to listen.
Blomkvist is approached, in his hour of shame, and with the bait of information that really will stand up in court against the man he defamed, by an old lion of industry, Vanger, to investigate a forty-year old murder. He agrees, and finds himself suddenly deep in the twisted and unhappy lives of the Vanger clan. And soon, he and Lisbeth team up, not only to catch a serial killer who has gone undetected for years, but also to bring down the man who set Blomkvist up to take a fall.
There are two other books in this series, and I am eager to read them. Sadly, Steig Larsson died before any of the books were published, in fact, he died shortly after submitting the books to his publisher.
If you enjoy thrillers with a difference, I can highly recommend this book. Salander is the victim of terrible abuse, both in her past and present, and yet she overcomes her adversaries with such determination, strength and confidence, she really shines on the page.