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
Sunday, April 25, 2010