|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo|
|Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Larsson, Stieg
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - US
Last Updated: 2017-05-31
A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga,
love story, and financial intrigue.
It s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
It s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism, and an unexpected connection between themselves.
Contagiously exciting, it s about society at...
Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for his Millennium novels, a trilogy of thrillers that became international bestsellers.
Editorial Reviews - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Series #1)
Stieg Larsson's first murder mystery has been a smash hit throughout Europe since its 2005 publication in the author's native Sweden, and has now become a bestseller in the U.S. as well. But the bitter twist in Larsson's success story is that he didn't live to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo published: he died of a heart attack just after he delivered the manuscripts for this book and the two that follow. When the most shocking corpse in the drawing room turns out to be the 50-year-old author's, the thrills of crime fiction can take a melancholy turn. But let's try, for the moment, to evaluate Larsson's novel apart from its ill-fated provenance. What is it that's generating so much enthusiasm from a gobsmacked international audience?
The eccentric sidekick is nearly as familiar a genre convention as the lonely private eye, and Larsson, who was an eager student of the canon, dreamed up a fairly irresistible one. She is Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo; and although she doesn't meet her partner-in-crime-solving until more than halfway through the novel, the reader connects with her right away. In fact, the book sprang to life for me at a precise moment on page 32 with the introduction of Salander, a goth wild child and a delightfully unlikely heroine.
"She was the very quintessence of difficult," thinks Salander's boss at the staid private-security firm where she works as a researcher. Whip-thin, abundantly tattooed and pierced, her dyed hair "as short as a fuse," Salander skulks through the corridors like a feral club kid. She has a gift for annoying the other employees, some of whom suspect she might be retarded. In fact Salander, who is 24 years old but looks 14, is an investigative savant, a high school dropout with freakishly superior computer skills who refuses to reveal her information sources and whose work methods are, to say the least, unorthodox.
One of the people Salander has recently investigated is Mikael Blomkvist, a well-known financial reporter and part owner of a muckraking magazine called Millennium . According to her report, Blomkvist is "a public person with few secrets and not very much to hide." Yet readers will find him to be a multi-dimensional and urgent figure, driven by an angry social conscience to expose the unchecked corruption that's rotting the top tiers of Swedish high finance. And he's just as angry about the cowardice of some of his journalist colleagues, who treat CEOs like rock stars and neglect to go after "the sharks who created interest crises and speculated away the savings of small investors." Moody, droll, and often surprisingly gentle, Blomkvist is not the only journalist-turned-sleuth in the mystery world -- other contemporary crime novels, by writers like Denise Mina, Denise Hamilton, Val McDermid, and Liza Marklund, feature reporters as protagonists -- but he is certainly one of the most engaging.
Both Blomkvist and the magazine are on the verge of bankruptcy after his humiliating defeat in a libel case, brought against him by a powerful industrialist named Hans-Erik Wennerström. Needing time to lick his wounds, Blomkvist decides to accept an offer to spend a year looking into an unsolved mystery that occurred 40 years ago on an island near a small industrial town called Hedestad, three hours north of Stockholm.
The offer comes from Henrik Vanger, octogenarian patriarch of a once-renowned family corporation whose influence is on the wane. What haunts the old man is the long-ago disappearance of his beloved grandniece, Harriet, when she a teenager.
Convinced she was murdered, Vanger dangles two incentives in front of Blomkvist to persuade him to re-investigate this very cold case: a large sum of money, and some irreparably damaging information about his vengeful enemy Wennerström.
The Vanger family, as Blomkvist quickly learns, is a large, contentious clan whose members mostly detest one another. Their closets are crammed with skeletons, including Nazi party affiliations, domestic-violence incidents, and an alcohol-related drowning. Many of them lived on or near the family's island compound at the time of Harriet's disappearance in 1966 and still live there today. What made Harriet's vanishing so confounding was that it occurred when the island was closed off by a dramatic oil-truck accident on the single bridge into Hedestad, making it, as Blomkvist notes in a nod to the classic whodunit writer Dorothy Sayers, "a sort of locked-room mystery in island format." Though search parties repeatedly explored every inch of the island and coastline, no trace of the girl was ever found.
As soon as Blomkvist manages to turn up some new evidence, Salander is brought in by her security firm to be his research assistant, and up ratchets the action: the cold case turns hot, the chilly northern landscape goes from blanc to noir, and the Vanger family secrets begin to tumble. As they try to make sense of a situation that now threatens their lives, Salander and Blomkvist make a most unlikely duo -- the methodical journalist and the unscrupulous hacker, the social conscience and the antisocial anarchist, the saddened older warrior and the furious young hellcat -- but their partnership, in its peculiarity, is all the charm and fire of this novel.
As a first-time crime novelist, Larsson was smart enough to figure out that much success depends on an artful juggle between giving information about his protagonists and withholding it. He plays this game well, offering tantalizing hints about, say, Salander's childhood or Blomkvist's failed marriage. The crucial puzzle in any first-rate novel, as Larsson understood, is the puzzle of human nature, and it's the richness of that mystery, more than the intricacies of its plot or the sophistication of its milieu, that powers this book. --Donna Rofkind
Donna Rifkind's reviews appear frequently in The Washington Post Book World and the Los Angeles Times. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, The American Scholar, and other publications. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.
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An engrossing debut thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been an international sensation, a bestseller in its native Sweden and throughout Europe. It features an unforgettable heroine: a brilliant 24-year-old punk-goth computer hacker and private investigator named Lisbeth Salander. Together with Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist on a most unusual assignment, she tracks a serial killer through a dangerous maze of business, political, and family secrets.
The intricate tale begins when Blomkvist is convicted of libeling top Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Unable to prove his innocence, Blomkvist prepares to leave his position at Millennium, the magazine he co-founded, now financially threatened by the verdict. But a summons from Wennerström's rival, the aging tycoon Henrik Vanger, presents an option he couldn't have imagined: In exchange for Blomkvist's writing the Vanger family history, Vanger promises to back Millennium financially and deliver incriminating evidence of Wennerström's crooked dealings.
But that's not all. The closets of the Vanger clan are littered with skeletons, and his new patron wants Blomkvist to set one at rest: the disappearance, 40 years ago, of Vanger's 16-year-old grandniece, Harriet. Intrigued by the cold case that was never solved despite multiple investigations, Blomkvist begins to dig for new evidence on an island north of Stockholm.
He is soon joined by Salander, a freelance investigator originally hired by Vanger to vet Blomkvist's reputation. Multiple piercings and tattoos are belied by the young computer genius's photographic memory. A victim of assault and harrowing abuse, Salander is driven by a relentless will and an astonishing capability for merciless retribution.
Larsson's narrative unfolds with mounting suspense, detailing the duo's intellectual ingenuity and increasing courage as they expose hidden cultures of right-wing fanaticism and misogyny and reveal the moral bankruptcy of big capital. As they race across Europe and on to Australia to trap their prey before another woman is tortured and killed, the reader is held in breathless anticipation until the novel's unforeseen conclusion.
About the Author
Born in Västerbotten in northern Sweden in 1954, STIEG LARSSON had a professional career that bears a striking resemblance to that of the protagonist of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist. Beginning as a graphic designer for the news agency Tidningarnas TelegrambyrÃ¥ (TT), Larsson went on to become the chief editor of Expo, the magazine published by the Expo Foundation, an organization he helped establish in 1995 to combat racism and the Swedish right-wing extremist movement.
Inspired by an old joke shared with a colleague at TT, Larsson admitted he started writing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at night just for fun. Two other novels, completing the Millennium trilogy, would follow. Describing them as "pension insurance," Larsson said he enjoyed the process of fiction writing so much that he didn't make contact with a publisher until he had completed the first two and had a third under way. Though Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004 and never saw any of his books in print, all three were subsequently published in Scandinavia and continental Europe to great acclaim.
From Our Booksellers
Refreshingly intelligent, this fast-paced mystery draws together an odd cast of underdog journalists, secretive industrialists, and a punk hacker with Asperger's to create the strangest and best thriller of the year, if not decade. A must-read. --James Tardif, Ellicott City, MD
An old-fashioned secluded island murder mystery, updated with complex characters and new technology . Like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple meet Cold Case. Powerful, thrilling, and disturbing. --Jill Borage, St. Louis, MO
This gritty thriller is packed with deceit, treachery, and plenty of dirty family secrets -- enough to fill an entire basement with skeletons. --Elayne Carringer, Devon, PA
Gripping! I even read at stop lights and while I was brushing my teeth. --Sarah Goodrich, Lexington, KY
From Writers and Reviewers
As vivid as bloodstains on snow -- and a perfect one-volume introduction to the unique strengths of Scandinavian crime fiction. --Lee Child
What a cracking novel! I haven't read such a stunning thriller debut for years . Brilliantly written and totally gripping. --Minette Walters
"The ballyhoo is fully justified . At over 500 pages this hardly sagged . The novel scores on every front -- character, story, atmosphere. --The Times (London)
A publishing sensation . Crime fiction has seldom needed to salute and mourn such a stellar talent as Larsson's in the same breath. --Sunday Times (London)
From the Publisher
An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.
Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson's first novel...It's Mr. Larsson's two protagonists-Carl Mikael Blomkvist, a reporter filling the role of detective, and his sidekick, Lisbeth Salander, a k a the girl with the dragon tattoo-who make this novel more than your run-of-the-mill mystery: they're both compelling, conflicted, complicated people, idiosyncratic in the extreme
The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson
...this remarkable first novel by the Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson...has been a huge bestseller in Europe and will be one here if readers are looking for an intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller that is variously a serial-killer saga, a search for a missing person and an informed glimpse into the worlds of journalism and business...It's hard to find fault with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. One must struggle with bewildering Swedish names, but that's a small price to pay. The story starts off at a leisurely pace, but the reader soon surrenders to Larsson's skillful narrative. We care about his characters because we come to know them so well. The central question-what happened to Harriet?-is answered in due course, and other matters involving romance and revenge are wrapped up as well. It's a book that lingers in the mind.
With its rich characterizations and intriguing plot, the first book of the late Stieg Larsson's completed trilogy, involving disgraced Swedish journalist-publisher Mikael Blomkvist and the eponymous, pierced and tattooed, emotionally troubled young hacker-investigator Lisbeth Salander, clearly deserves the acclaim it's received overseas. Martin Wenner's almost indifferent, British-accented narration would seem an odd choice for a novel filled with passion, sex and violence, but as the oddly coupled Blomkvist and Salander probe the four-decade-old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, heiress to one of Sweden's wealthiest clans, the objective approach actually accentuates the extreme behavior of both and the strange subjects of their investigation. Wenner's calm, controlled manner aids the listener in keeping track of the numerous members of the Vanger family, a task that the printed book simplifies with a reference page. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, July 14). (Sept.)Copyright ® Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Wilda Williams - Library Journal
Ever since Knopf editor Sonny Mehta bought the U.S. rights last November, the prepublication buzz on this dark, moody crime thriller by a Swedish journalist has grown steadily. A best seller in Europe (it outsold the Bible in Denmark), this first entry in the "Millennium" trilogy finally lands in America. Is the hype justified? Yes. Despite a sometimes plodding translation and a few implausible details, this complex, multilayered tale, which combines an intricate financial thriller with an Agatha Christie-like locked-room mystery set on an island, grabs the reader from the first page. Convicted of libeling a prominent businessman and awaiting imprisonment, financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist agrees to industrialist Henrik Vanger's request to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of Vanger's 16-year-old niece, Harriet. In return, Vanger will help Blomkvist dig up dirt on the corrupt businessman. Assisting in Blomkvist's investigation is 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but enigmatic computer hacker. Punkish, tattooed, sullen, antisocial, and emotionally damaged, she is a compelling character, much like Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory, and this reviewer looks forward to learning more of her backstory in the next two books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and Castles in the Sky). Sweden may be the land of blondes, Ikea, and the Midnight Sun, but Larsson, who died in 2004, brilliantly exposes its dark heart: sexual violence against women, a Nazi past, and corporate corruption. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/03.]