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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

In recent years, Scandinavian mystery writers have come on their own.  Authors such as Henning Mankell and Karin Fossum have garnered attention for several years now, and there are many others.  Recent interest has focused on Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy (two are out and one is on the way).  These books have become widely popular, especially in Europe and definitely gaining a following over here.  It’s a shame for Larsson, as he passed away in 2004, right around the time he was giving the manuscripts for these to the publisher.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first in the series – our main characters are Mikael Blomkvist, a well-known Swedish journalist who is facing jail time for a trumped-up libel case against a wealthy corporation, and Lisbeth Salander, a moody social outcast Goth type who happens to be a brilliant online hacker and does freelance work for a large security company.  When facing financial straits with his magazine, Mikael is hired by Henrik Vanger, the head of a rich industrial family, to nominally write a history of the Vanger family, although his real role is to solve the mystery of Henrik’s niece Harriet and her mysterious disappearance nearly 40 years before.  Lisbeth’s involvement at first is running a background check on Blomkvist for Vanger’s lawyer, but about halfway through the book, she meets Blomkvist in person and becomes as entrenched in the case as he is as they uncover the hidden secrets of the vast (and confusing) Vanger family. 

The book’s setting is the isolation and changing seasons of a northern Swedish small town.  This is plenty enough to induce a chill, although what happens brings even more in the way of shock value.  The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is a block of a book and takes some time to get going, but once the intrigues start coming, it’s hard to put down. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)


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