Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson:

Stieg Larsson was a radical journalist who began his career working for the Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet or Communist Workers League, in Sweden. He later became interested in the growth of neo-Nazi groups in Sweden and founded the Swedish Expo Foundation and it's magazine, Expo, which sought to expose them. Larsson received death threats from various members of these groups and became very secretive about his movements. He was also a leading science fiction fan and edited of several fanzines.

Larsson died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004. Naturally, rumors abound that he was really murdered by neo-Nazis. He had written three crime novels, for his own amusement, and had just contacted a publisher about them before he died. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in the series.

The girl for whom the book is named (in English, the Swedish title translates as "Men Who Hate Women") is Lisbeth Salander, a 25 year old high school dropout who dresses in black leather, rides a motorcycle and has several tattoos, including a dragon, and piercings. She is a computer hacker. Salander is hired as a research assistant by a journalist that has a remarkably similar resume to Larsson's own, Mikael Blomqvist, who is researching the disappearance of a 16 year old girl forty some years ago. Blomkvist is in the pay of a Swedish industrialist, much to his own chagrin.

You will not be surprised to find that Nazis, old school ones from the 1930s and 40s, are part of the story and, considering the Swedish title, misanthropes who abuse women. There are also big corporations that do bad things but also some surprisingly sympathetic characters who are corporate big shots. I am going to be good and not spoil the plot for you, though.

Despite the fact that Larsson lays it on a bit too thick for me sometimes, I am going to run right out a get a copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second book in the series. I guess that you could interpret this as a positive review.

P.S. I heard that someone made a movie of this story. I haven't seen it.

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keywords: fiction, thriller, Sweden, Stieg Larsson


  1. I just picked a copy of this up at my used book store, so I'm glad to get some info from you before I begin (and glad you didn't spoil anything...) I've heard that there's a Swedish film but that a Hollywood version is in the works as well. I haven't verified that info, but once I'm done the book I might try to track down the Swedish movie...

  2. You might be able to get a copy with subtitles. How cool, wear a beret and smoke a Gauliose while watching the film.

  3. Well, I may be an "otherwise unemployable librarian", but I know how to spell Gauloise correctly. Your reviews are moderately passable; but your blog tagline is offensive and inaccurate. Attempting humor at the expense of an entire profession - an honorable and scholarly one at that - is jejune at the very least.

  4. I have a great deal of respect for librarians. Most of the ones I know have a sense of humor. I suggest that you get a life, Mr. Anonymous.

  5. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - not usually much of a mystery/crime reader, but this one held my interest. There is a Swedish film and Siobhancurious is correct - an American version is being talked about. I think it would make a great movie, but I'm not sure I'll be up for watching the violence.

    Ignore Anonymous - can't possibly be a librarian, because I work with scores of them and they are lovely, gracious people!!

  6. The violence bothered me a bit in the book. Hopefully the filmmakers will keep most of it off camera. If they want to have an R rating, whrere the money is, they will have to.

  7. The Swedish movie is great. You get your money's worth too it's 2.5 hours but doesn't drag.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the 3rd book. I don't read much in the crime fiction/thriller genre but have enjoyed these books.


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