The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The series consists of:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
It is called the Millennium trilogy because one of the main characters, Mikael Blomqvist, is the part owner and managing editor of the Millennium financial news magazine.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thriller centering around a cold case about a missing girl and current sex crimes against women. These two topics seem dissimilar until the end of the book when they come together in a depraved manner to explain the other. Harriet Vanger disappeared in the late 1960s and is presumed dead. Her uncle, Henrik Vanger, is nearing the end of his life and is determined to find out what happened to her before he dies. Mikael Blomqvist, a disgraced financial journalist, is asked to look into the matter. His cover story is that he is writing the family history of the Swedish financial titans, the Vangers, but in truth he is supposed to solve this decades-old mystery.
Characterizations are interesting and full bodied. In particular, the central investigators, Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, are captivating. Secondary characters such as Harriet and Henrik Vanger are equally complex. The pacing was occasionally uneven. Entire chapters were devoted to ferreting out clues and painstakingly piecing them together. Other chapters were filled with action and suspense. I suppose the two methods allowed Larsson to gradually build the tension, and the effect would have been different if the pacing was uniform throughout the book.
One of the most intriguing questions to come out of this book is: to what degree is a person culpable for another person’s crimes? Does remaining silent make you an accomplice? How can violence against women be so endemic and yet unremarked? How can this evilness be stopped?