Monday, January 16, 2012

Haven't Read 'Dragon Tattoo' Yet? Give it a Try!

“The Girl with the Golden Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $15.95), one of 2012’s best selling books, initially came out in an English translation in 2008.

This latest paperback edition showcases a new cover with images from the hot new David Fincher movie. It’s also gotten a big push through assorted blog sites and positive reader recommendations
The other two books in the blockbuster series, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” have also sold incredibly well, with worldwide sales of over 21 million copies.

At almost 600 pages, reading the first book in the series seems like a massive undertaking for the average mystery/thriller lover, who’s more used to completing books half that length.

After the first 100 pages or so, one’s likely to be puzzled as to what all the fuss is about. But the book gets better and better; soon the reader’s ensnared and amazed, wanting to drop everything to find out more about
the actions of Larsson’s intriguing, enigmatic main characters.

Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced Swedish financial journalist, is hired by the head of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families to investigate the 1966 disappearance of Harriet Varner, a pretty 16-year-old family member.

Eventually, he gets assistance from computer hacking prodigy Lisbeth Salander, an independent, asocial young woman who’s under court-ordered psychiatric guardianship.

Salander’s gritty experiences with a new court-appointed guardian are daunting; her revenge is justifiably memorable.

Surprisingly, the investigative pair works together remarkably well; soon the relationship becomes more than just work-related. The novel, like the movie, is exceptionally complex and atmospheric. The pair has minimal initial success as they try to track down facts using traditional and more contemporary information-gathering methods.

Their quest isn’t easy; reticent family members and many of the assorted authorities have long ago given up ever solving the puzzling case.

Unusual sexual relationships abound; unnerving information surfaces and the search for truth reveals disturbing and deadly, long hidden secrets.

Moviegoers who’ve caught the excellent recent film starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara won’t be disappointed with the book. A few sub-plots have been deleted and some scenes necessarily altered.

Larsson, who died in 2004, has created a fascinating, absorbing tale that succeeds exceptionally well on a variety of levels.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on January 15, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I found the beginning confusing, but I'm glad I persevered.