Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I am not a huge fan of mysteries. I think my general malaise regarding this genre has to do with the fact that I seldom really care about the actual mystery. The who done it is only interesting to me if there is some other thread in the book, like great forensics, supernatural creatures, or great characters. My mother-in-law has frequently tried to get me to read mysteries, like Tony Hillerman which is exciting as a stroll through endless deserts. Oh wait, that is what it was about.

It was with great reluctance that I promised to read her latest offering, a mystery by a writer in Sweden who wrote three novels, delivered them all to his publisher at the same time, and then promptly dropped dead. Stieg Larsson’s novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, deserves its place among the bestsellers. It is a wonderful book.

This book has what every book should contain, characters that take hold of you from the first page and then refuse to let go. The mystery plot, while intriguing, definitely takes a backseat to the cast of characters that weave through Larsson’s creation. The writing is superb and Larsson’s use of chronological time to move the characters forward is a nice touch.

The two main characters, Blomkvist and Salander, catch at the imagination for very different reasons. Blomkvist, a journalist who is found guilty of liable at the beginning of the book, is an underdog without a clear path. One reason I kept reading was because I wanted to know what had happened to bring him from celebrated journalist to pariah in the woods. I fell head over heels in love with Salander who is smart, brooding, hilariously vindictive, misunderstood, and trouble in black. The mystery of her character is what made me devour this book.

Throw in these two characters, good writing, and a dysfunctional, wealthy family with more secrets that Harry Potter’s chamber (forgive me, we have been binging on Harry Potter at the Rochester household for the past couple weeks) and you have one heck of a great novel. Even if it is a mystery.

Highly Recommended: for lovers and haters of mysteries alike, this one is a definite keeper