Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Feature: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Book Review

I picked up this book because of the movie hype. If I know a movie is connected to a book, I like to read it! I’m just a book-nerd like that. It helps that I had seen this book around on shelves at the grocery store and popping up in advertisements. Plus, I love dragons and tattoos, so right there we have at title worth looking into.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson” is one part murder mystery, one part thriller, one part psychological intrigue, and one part love story. Mikael Blomkvist is a financial journalist who, at the beginning of the book, is being indited for libel and defamation of the business mogul Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.

The situation is complicated. Mikael had published his story in good faith, only to have his world crumble. We don’t actually find out until the end of the book exactly what happened, so I’ll leave that up to your imagination. One thing that is firmly established is that Mikael is a good guy in a bad situation.

Then Mikael is summoned to mysterious meeting with the aged head of the Vanger family. There he is presented with the opportunity to write a novel based on the complex and disturbing history of this family who has made their mark in Swedish industry, and at the same time attempt to solve a 40 year old murder mystery. If he writes the book and gives the mystery his best effort, he’ll not only be remunerated generously, he’ll also be given telling information about Wennerstrom.

It’s a crazy proposition, but Mikael is at a place in his life where he needs to take what he can get, and the thought of being able to tackle Wennerstrom at the end makes it worth it.

He has no idea what he’s getting into.

I found the murder mystery compelling. I’ve read my fair share of murder mystery’s, both the classics like Agatha Christie and more recent works, and Larsson left me completely in the dark about the solution. Oh I was able to pick up on pieces along the way, but the final solution evaded me until the end.

I was fascinated by the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, Lisbeth Salander. She’s an investigative hacker who probably falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Larsson does an incredible job at bringing us into her world as she first is skating around the edges of Mikael’s mysteries, and then becomes an integral part of the investigation.

I’m giving this book 5 out of 5 cups of coffee with the following caveat: the book tackles some brutal topics and contains the imagery to go with it. It’s brilliant writing, meticulous and containing an incredible amount of detail, while still keeping you captivated. However, if you have too vivid of an imagination and don’t handle the exploitation of women well, don’t read it. I believe he handled the topic well, as in there was closure and the wrongs were avenged, but it is a pretty hard core book at times.

I haven't decided if I'm going to watch the movie (either the Swedish or the America version) just because of the brutal imagery used in some places in the book. I handle that kind of thing much better in book form than movies. If I do end up watching them - I'll write up a review!

~ Ruthie ~

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