Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Review: The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Stieg Larsson's novel which is a part mystery, part thriller about what appears to have been a long overdue crime.

The novel begins with the protagonist, Blomkvist, a journalist and publisher for a magazine convicted of libel and false reporting against a well-known industrialist. As a result of this conviction, he is forced to depart his job. Fortuitously, another industrialist decides to hire Blomkvist to investigate a 40 year old murder: niece Harriet Vanger's mysterious disappearance. Blomkvist makes little progress at first, but then eventually makes a surprising breakthrough, and the plot's pace picks up dramatically after that.

At the same time, the novel follows the title character's story. Lisbeth Salander, computer hacker, anti-social investigator gets full development in an interspersed story segment that shows us what kind of person she is. We know that the two protagonists will eventually meet, but Larrson clearly wanted his audience to fully understand where this character comes from.

The novel is slow for the first half, picks up its pace in the middle, and towards the end jumps into triple-time action, with multiple events occupying each page. This pace seems to be deliberate, but definitely put me off for the first half or so. The mystery doesn't really seem fair: by the time the reader get to the resolution, there has been so many distractions and red herrings thrown at him that the mystery is all but forgotten! This properly puts the book into the "thriller" category rather than the usual mystery.

The writing style is stilted, and the characters stereotypes. Recommended only as an airplane novel, but as an airplane novel, it is very good.
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