Friday, March 20, 2009

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

When I started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I thought it was going to be a mystery about a bad-guy financier who gets investigated by the hero of the novel. Well, in the end it was that, and more, but in the meantime, I got caught up in the story of the girl with the aforementioned tattoo and the man who lost his job because he started investigating the bad-guy financier, and then I detoured so thoroughly into the story of how the man who lost his job, Mikhael Blomkvist, solved the mystery of a young girl's disappearance that I was surprised, when that mystery was solved, to find that the book was far from over.

In the end, I got the downfall of the bad-guy financier, the triumph of the girl with the tattoo, some insight into the complicated denouement of all the mysteries Mikhael was investigating, and three happy endings. That's not enough, though; the girl with the tattoo gets one happy ending and also one unhappy ending, which finally ends the novel.

This is one of the most complicated and interesting mystery plots I've tried to follow for a very long time. The girl with the tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, is a girl with a mysterious past and absolutely without pity:

"'Talk about a dysfunctional family,' Blomkvist said. 'Martin really didn't have a chance.'
Salander gave him a strange look.
'What Martin told me--even though it was rambling--was that his father started his apprenticeship after he reached puberty. He was there at the murder of Lea in Uddevalla in 1962. He was fourteen, for God's sake. He was there at the murder of Sara in 1964 and that time he took an active part. He was sixteen.'
'He said that he had never touched another man--except his father. That made me think that...well, the only possible conclusion is that his father raped him. Martin called it 'his duty.' The sexual assaults must have gone on for a long time. He was raised by his father, so to speak.'
'Bullshit,' Salander said, her voice hard as flint.
Blomkvist stared at her in astonishment. She had a stubborn look in her eyes. There was not an ounce of sympathy in it.
'Martin had exactly the same opportunity as anyone else to strike back. He killed and he raped because he liked doing it.'
'I'm not saying otherwise. But Martin was a repressed boy and under the influence of his father, just as Gottfried was cowed by his father, the Nazi.'
'So you're assuming that Martin had no will of his own and that people become whatever they've been brought up to be.'
Blomkvist smiled cautiously. 'Is this a sensitive issue?'
Salander's eyes blazed with fury. Blomkvist quickly went on.
'I'm only saying that I think that a person's upbringing does play a role. Gottfried's father beat him mercilessly for years. That leaves its mark.'
'Bullshit,' Salander said again. 'Gottfried isn't the only kid who was ever mistreated. That doesn't give him the right to murder women. He made that choice himself. And the same is true of Martin.'"

Now, even though The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo gave me more story than I can usually ask for in one novel, I'm still wild to know more about what made Salander the person she is, and to see what she'll do next. Fortunately for me, this novel by Stieg Larsson is the first in his "Millennium Trilogy". At the time of his death in November 2004 he left three unpublished novels, and the next one is The Girl Who Played With Fire, which will be published in English this July. Since I've already started reading an advance copy from my local college bookstore, you can look for that review soon.

Today, however, is my last day of being underemployed. Next week is the kids' spring break, and we have plans to break out of our routine, which will result in less blogging for a few days. And then I start commuting and teaching again. Have I finished all the projects I started because I thought I had so much time? Um, what do you think? Do you know anyone who is that neat and organized? I don't think I do!


Anonymous said...

Oooh. I want to read this!

Cathy said...

This was one of my Top Ten Reads last year, and I can't wait to get my hands on The Girl Who Played With Fire!

Matt said...

Your review convinces me to bump this up my pile. One happy and one unhappy ending? That's a great teaser!

Jeanne said...

If you can stand the waiting for the next two, you should definitely "bump this up your pile"!

Knopf Marketing said...

Dear fellow Stieg Larsson fan,

We’re trying something new for the launch of the second book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.
Run your own Stieg Larsson contest on your blog—for which we will provide the prizes (a free copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire, cool temporary dragon tattoos). The first thirty (30) entrants will get first dibs of the translated manuscript of book three. Below you’ll find the complete rules and regulations.

Click here
for contest entry

Visit the Stieg Larsson site
for more info

Friend on Facebook

us on Twitter

The first 250 bloggers to enter their information (name, blog name, blog URL mailing address, and daytime phone number) will obtain the giveaway material (one (1) copy of The Girl who Played with Fire and a batch of temporary tattoos) to host a sweepstakes on their blog. The first 30 bloggers to enter will also receive (1) copy of the manuscript of the third Stieg Larsson thriller at the time of its in-house release. All applications to participate will have to be received by 11:59 pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on August 15, 2009. U.S. Residents only. Bloggers are solely responsible for the administration of the sweepstakes on their blogs.

The A.A. Knopf Marketing Team