Män som Hatar Kvinnor; ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson

When I was young I had no idea who I wanted to be. A lot of my friends have funny anecdotes (a frog being the best) or are now achieving their desired careers; I was and still am utterly clueless. Although, a frog sounds like a rather attractive prospect, minus the slime and flies. Once she decided street cleaning was not for her (I have been told not to ask) my friend, Sophie wanted to be Sherlock Holmes; one of the more interesting reason I have begged let her be my friend.She still wants to be Sherlock Holmes The only thing I wanted at seven was to be an only child; apologies siblings.

In any Sherlock scenario I claim the role of Watson; intelligent Watson, not the clueless Watson Television shows often depict. I dislike it when Watson, the character who we relate to and who humanises Sherlock, is displayed as an idiot as it undermines the intelligence of the audience. Watson represents the average intelligent human, smart enough to deduct but, lacking the social dysfunctions which cause an utter infatuation with one’s own skills.

Detective, mystery or crime novels are like a bag of Sainsburys cookies; one or two leave you feeling elated but, any more and you feel bloated and overfed. While there are many good novels in these genres plot lines can often blur into each other; to avoid a reading lull I try not to read any in quick succession. The last crime novel I remember reading was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I am sure there have been others since then however, Christie has stayed with me since reading and is a standard to which other novels are judged. I did not expect to enjoy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo having read it a few years ago and given up. My assumption was that my second attempt would find me moderately struggling through, feeling fairly indifferent to the plot. Note to self, never assume.

Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no turning back. This debut thriller–the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson–is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch–and there’s always a catch–is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.Dave Callanan, Goodreads

While sections of the content bogged me down, Larsson’s characters were constantly interesting and well constructed. There was risk I would grow annoyed at Blomkvist or Berger, however, once the initial hardship of the first few chapters was over they came into their own. Larsson triumphs with Lisbeth Salander, who is possibly one of the best characters I have read. Initially her difference seemed clichéd however, this appearance is quickly dispelled; Salander comes equipped with opinions and views stemming from an difficult, yet believable, upbringing. At pinnacle points in the novel I found my opinions aligning with the more moderate Blomkvist but, Salander’s alternative stance was a refreshing and needed addition. It would have been easy for Larsson to make Salander a calm nervous character hiding behind her ‘look’ and I am very pleased this was avoided.

Larsson’s stance on violence against women is marvellously blunt. While my knowledge of feminism outside of England is relatively non-existent, it was refreshing to read a male author so adverse to violence against women. Some of the more political parts of the novel, such as the economics or Nazism, past over me with little understanding. Larsson does over-laden the novel with this information and I did find my mind wandered during these parts. I do not know much, if anything, about Swedish politics or culture; however, in general this did not deter me from reading.

Martin Vanger’s mania was guessable well before its revelation, however, the extent and length of it was surprising. The length, through the family tree, of which it extends is ingenious and well employed. Larsson once again manages to avoid clichés through an intricate backdrop of family feuds and disasters. I expected the Vanger mystery to be the conclusion of the novel and was more than impressed that there was more to be discussed. I have The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second in the Millennium trilogy, on my to-read list; it is going to be hard to resist it over the novels which precede it.

NB: Män som hatar kvinnor literally translates to ‘men who hate women’, the original title of the book in Swedish.Source, Wiki

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2 Comments on "Män som Hatar Kvinnor; ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson"

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Sophie
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How about we meet both our dreams, set up a Consulting Detective agency: I can flounce about alienating everyone, you can issue the formal apologies, together we can fight crime! I was also cynical about Salander at first. I was so worried he’d turn her into the typical ‘special snowflake goth prodigy’ but he really managed not to fall in that trap, she’s an entirely fleshed out multi-dimensional character. I agree though, this book could have done with some serious editing. I read all that stuff about Swedish economics and what not, thinking it may be important later, which it… Read more »
Krissy
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This is one of those books that falls in the category of “intrigued enough to see the movie (which I also liked a lot), but not don’t quite have the interest/patience for the looong-ass book”. Oh man, you’re going to skewer me for that comment. I’ve become such a horrible reader these days! I guess I just don’t really like series that much. I think the only one I’ve read in the last 10 years is Harry Potter. (And the audiobooks I’m listening to are a fantasy series, but I’m only listening to them since I read the books when… Read more »