Sunday, July 20, 2008

Steig Larsson-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Swedish financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist is at a low point after an expose in
his magazine is ruled libelous and facing a prison term, he gets a call from an elderly industrial legend Henrik Vanger whose industrial empire is teetering under the fractious leadership of his feuding family members.
Vanger arranges to hire the disgraced journalist to write his memoirs, but the real reason for their business is that Vanger also believes that a beloved relative Harriet, his favourite and the one he had planned to pass his holdings onto, was murdered forty years previously and he wants Blomkvist to look at the cold case with an eye to solving it before Vanger passes on.
The memoir ruse is a front for Blomkvist to gain access to the treachery that is the family history.
As an added incentive Vanger promises Blomkvist undisclosed information that will make a second expose against his target airtight.
At the centre of the novel are two enigmatic and wholly unconventional accomplices that Blomkvist employs on his dual quests, Lisbeth Salander, as brilliant as she is unstable
and Erika Berger, Blomkvist's co-editor.
The author Steig Larsson was a left wing journalist and a leading expert on Neo-Nazi and extreme right movements in his native Sweden and the novel is in many ways a political thriller, but with elements of financial skulduggery and a classic locked room device at the core (an horrific road accident that obscures Harriet's disappearance) there's enough for any strain of crime fanatic to lock in with.
The book runs over 500 pages, but Dragon Tattoo gets in gear right away and never drags.
There are a number of creeps in the Vanger family whose histories are intertwined in the way only the worst families are, and the remote locale in northern Sweden adds to the airless room effect that awaits the vulnerable Blomkvist.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a great sense of place, moves extraordinarily well for such a big book and Larsson has a flair for laying bare our capacity for venal, indeed shocking behaviour. This was a dark, disquieting work that seems to only come from Scandinavian writers.
I can't recall the last time I inhaled a crime novel of such length this quickly and like most readers who will become instant fans of the "Millennium Trilogy", I lament that after the two book to come in the next couple years, that will be all.
Steig Larsson died of a heart attack shortly after submitting the three finished novels to his publisher.
In the last couple years, the trilogy has sold over three million copies throughout Europe.

Watch this one, it's going to be a very big deal come September.

Posted by David

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