Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption. -Goodreads.com
So I've had this for quite a while now. It was included, a very long time ago, in an IMM post. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to revise but bored out of my mind, and I saw it lying there on my book trolley (where I keep most of the books I plan to read but never really get round to- the ones I'm currently reading are stacked on a pillow on my bed) so I thought I'd just try it out, see if it really is as good as it's supposed to be.
And guess what? It is.
The first few pages intrigued me. The next few pages bored me- there was all this financial stuff and I'm not really someone who's that interested in economics or business or whatever. I tried though to keep reading, and slowly I was sucked into the world of one Blomkvist and Milennium Magazine. I think it's a huge testament to Larsson's writing skills that the book was able to capture the interest of someone who has never even touched crime-fiction before.
And the next week I was at a bookstore, there I was, actually taking some crime novels off the shelves and flicking through them. I didn't buy any, but that's just because I'm the sort of person who needs to reads the reviews of a few books, know who the 'masters' of a genre are, before I completely plunge into a genre I have never dared to read in the past.
It was disturbing yes, and perhaps there were a few too many sex scenes. But it was still engrossing, and the characterisation was near-perfect (I say near, because I don't believe anything can ever be perfect). All the characters, especially of course, the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, were so well-rounded and realistic. It was possible to see through the eyes of nearly all the main characters- everyone had their rough edges, their secret desires that didn't make them perfect- and even the 'villain' wasn't really a villain, but just a victim himself. The hero, too, was not a hero: he wasn't the best of fathers, which he had himself acknowledged, and a bit of a playboy as well. The heroine, well, she was one of the most complex characters I've ever encountered in an a novel.
Of course, there was social commentary as well, but this was so deftly woven into the plot that not at one single point in the novel did it feel as if Larsson was preaching. No, he was entertaining, and the exact, to-the-point descriptions and the fast pace made it impossible for my attention to waver.
To everyone who has approached crime fiction with trepidation in the past, pick this up from the library or a bookstore or wherever. Read it. You won't regret it and maybe, like me, you'll be inclined to read more crime fiction.
Warning: not for the faint-hearted.