Monday, April 05, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson


I tend to avoid books that get a lot of attention, but reading the blurb at the library made me pick this one up. It was on short term loan so I bought my own copy to finish it.

This is a compulsive read. The style might be bumpy for those used to the 1st person/ narrow focus 3rd person point of view common to most modern mysteries. We have a big cast of characters and we get peeks of various lengths into the minds of several, but mostly we stick with the two protagonists. Lizbath Salander is by far the most enigmatic and therefore the most interesting, but Mikael Blomvkvist is the one with whom we spend much of our time. I'm sure there are some rough spots in the translation, too, but they didn't get in my way.

Characters are a big hunk of this book, and they make the plot move along. Set in Sweden, it took me a bit of time to get used to the names and other differences. I didn't labor over that, though -- once I got into the swing of the narrative, I was involved in watching the pieces come together. One thing I noted was the amount of computer tech info used, which is pretty up-to-date now, but I imagine will be dated and "old" in a few years. Still, it's well done and, again, does not get in the way. It's accurate enough not to trigger any "ain't no way" reactions from me, which is all I need.

What I liked best was what I like in any good mystery -- several threads, lots of possibilities without any obvious red herrings, and a surprise in the "whodunit". Information is fed out regularly through the narrative and the use of "now he knew" to get you to turn the next page, while obvious, worked and only felt a little contrived. Most of the threads were knotted off at the end, except for some that dangle for the sequels and aren't essential to the mystery (but are great for character development).

This book also contains some very horrific scenes of violence, in particular about violence against women (and a few violent actions against animals), but the book isn't ABOUT that. The book also contains a bit in the way of revenge fantasies. If you trigger on such descriptions, you might want to avoid the book, or at least have someone who has read it tell you were those sections are so you can skip them or get a synopsis. They do not make up a big portion of the book, and they either are part of the mystery or give insight into the characters. I'm looking forward to plowing into the next books in this trilogy and I hope they are equal to the first book.

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