It has a complex plot involving two separate 'mysteries'; the disappearance of a young girl, Harriet Vanger, in the 1960's and the web of corporate corruption spun by the Wennestrom Corporation.
Michael Blomkvist has been found guilty of defaming the Wennestrom Corporation and his career is shot to pieces, particularly following his sentence of 2 months imprisonment. He insists, however, that Wennestrom is corrupt, and when Henrick Vanger (ex-CEO of the family owned and run Venger Corporation) offers proof of Wennestrom's corruption in return for Blomkvist assisting him to solve the mysterious disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger 40 years ago, Blomkvist cannot resist. To assist him, he joins forces with Lisbeth Salander, a young, rather 'gothic' girl, with behavioural problems but skills perfect for such a task.
This book didn't have me hooked from the beginning, but perseverance paid off, and from about half way through the book I was hopelessly hooked.
Plot: The plot as twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It is also a lot darker than I expected it to be, with scenes of graphic violence against women. I am somewhat immune to these things because of the work that I do, but I am sure that some people would have found these scenes extremely shocking. I certainly found them shocking, mainly because I didn't see them coming and I am not sued to reading such graphic material in novel form. However, I very much appreciated Larsson's ability to give me as the reader something different to what I am used to reading. Sometimes it good to receive a shock like that. There are many women out there who suffer from these types of violence on a daily basis while most of us sit at home enjoying our happy lives.
My biggest complaint about the plot, and why I had trouble really getting into the book, is that Larsson spent far too much time setting everything up. I think the first 1/3 of the book is about establishing who all the characters are and how they are related. I know it has a complex plot, but this did become a little frustrating.
The book is written from many different people's perspectives and I found that the way in which is went between these different perspectives so frequently was at times quite distracting.
I was also surprised at how much additional book there as after the murder mystery was resolved. I wasn't really quite as interested in the Wennestrom Affair as I was the murder mystery, but I did appreciate that Larsson really tied off all the loose ends.
Characters: The characters were well formed I thought. I really developed a sense of who they were, particularly Blomkvist and Salander. I was surprised at Blomkvist's willingness to sleep with so many people, but each to their own.
For me, it was really Salander that made the book. I know a lot of characters in the book say this about her, but I think it is very true - you really got a sense of her as the victim. Despite her bravado, her intelligence, her strength and conviction, underneath it all her weakness and her neediness (I think) were palpable, and you couldn't help but feel for her. I particularly felt for her in the way in which her relationship with Blomkvist concluded.
Although I accept that most of this review so far reads more bad than god, the way in which Larsson sucks you into the story to the point where you cannot put the book down more than makes up for everything else. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone without reservation and one that I will definitely be re-reading.
What kind of read is this?
It is a very dark read, but it is gripping. Don't be put off by it's size either, it is an easy read.
Do I recommend this book?
Without reservation. It was really deeply and darkly delicious.
Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Absolutely. This is one that I think will stand up tp re-reading.
7.5 / 8
Brilliant, couldn't put it down. Everyone should read it. Recommend that you buy it.
Book Details: Paperback; 533 pages; published by MacLehose Press in 2008; interpreted from Swedish into English by Reg Keeland