Maybe everyone has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. But if you are one of the few who have not, you are missing an exciting thriller.
Editor and writer Mikael Blomkvist has just lost a libel case brought by a billionaire industrialist named Wennerström concerning Blomkvist’s allegations of corruption. Blomkvist has been sentenced to three months in prison. He had carefully checked his facts but then one of his witnesses recanted. In order to separate his magazine, Millenium, from this problem, he resigns.
After he gets out of jail, he is approached for a job by Henrik Vanger, the retired head of Vanger Corporation. Vanger wants Blomkvist to find out what happened to his great-niece Harriet, who disappeared off the family’s private island 36 years earlier during a day when the island was cut off from the mainland by an accident blocking the only bridge. He is afraid that some member of his family murdered her. He yearly receives a pressed flower on his niece’s birthday and believes the killer is expressing remorse through this means.
Although Blomkvist is initially reluctant, he eventually accepts the job and goes to live on the island. When he decides he needs a research assistant, Vanger’s lawyer connects him with Lisbeth Salander, a child-sized woman who dresses in a goth style and has a dragon tattoo.
Salander is a computer genius with a difficult past. When she was a teenager, she was institutionalized and is still under the care of a legal guardian, who controls her money and can have her institutionalized at any time. She is hostile and uncommunicative, and few people have bothered to try to get to know her. After her guardian has a stroke, he is replaced by Nils Bjurman, who uses his position to sexually abuse her.
Bjurman has seriously misjudged Salander, however, and she takes care of this problem in one of the most satisfying scenes of the novel.
As Blomkvist and Salander investigate Harriet Vanger’s disappearance, they begin to believe that they may be on the track of a serial killer. Ultimately, Blomkvist finds himself in grave danger.
With a complex, interesting plot, an engaging hero and formidable heroine, a slew of interesting characters, and a sense of Swedish politics and law, you will lap up this book and go looking for the next one. Larsson was an activist with strong feelings about violence against women, a theme in all of his books.