By: Stieg Larsson
According to Mikael Blomkvist, well respected financial journalists are hard to come by, and he has spent his career building such a reputation. Working with his long-time friend and lover, Erika Berger, the duo created the monthly magazine, Millennium, that has slowly been gaining momentum in the Swedish market. After receiving a tip with information that would damage the billionaire industrialist, Hans-Erik Wennerström, Blomkvist took to his magazine to write an extensive article about his findings. Later, the court convicts him of libel, and he must serve three months in prison and pay heavy fines. Believing his career is permanently over and facing a shattered reputation, Blomkvist has decided to leave Millennium to prevent harming Erika and his other colleagues.
On the day he has finished packing all of his things, Mikael receives a strange call. Henrik Vanger, the former CEO of Vanger Enterprises and patriarch of the wealthy Vanger family, has a freelance assignment he wants Mikael to accept. Thirty-six years ago, Henrik’s great-niece, Harriet, went missing without a trace. Her body was never found, and no one saw what happened to her. In exchange for one year of his time to investigate her disappearance, Blomkvist is offered a generous wage and a promise to provide valuable information that would help Mikael take down Wennerström and restore his reputation. He reluctantly accepts the offer.
Lisbeth Salander, is deeply introverted and has been deemed a danger to herself by the Swedish court. Formally considered mentally handicapped, she takes a job as a paper pusher at Milton Securities. Her boss, Dragan Armanski, soon discovers Salander has a hidden talent for uncovering people’s darkest secrets and hires her as a private investigator.
Dirch Frode, lawyer for Henrik Vanger, has enlisted her help to do an extensive background check on Mikael Blomkvist. Every personal detail of his life is exposed for scrutiny, and she soon takes interest in the case against Wennerström.
I am officially a fan of murder mysteries. This book opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities that I didn’t even know existed. First off, Larsson was an exceptionally amazing writer who had a way of always keeping my attention even in parts that seemed a little drawn out. He stayed away from clichés in horror movies and leaves the reader wanting more.
I greatly appreciated that he didn’t lead me anywhere I expected the story to go. The author takes you on a wild goose chase and then seems to laugh at you about it when you finally realize what’s going on. I love that. You think you know where the book is headed and then the author goes “nope!” and sends things in a totally different direction. Good luck piecing the details together yourself if you haven’t seen the movie. Actually, good luck piecing the details together yourself even if you have see the movie.
As I mentioned before, there are parts of the book where I thought things were a little drawn out (the book is 644 pages if you get the mass-produced paperback), but everything has a purpose in the end. My advice to you if you ever start feeling like the story isn’t going anywhere is to just keep reading. He doesn’t have his first breakthrough in the case until half way through if that tells you anything, but I thought his discoveries were well worth the wait.
The climax of the book was also strange because, at least to me, it felt like it was in two different parts. I thought the book would end on the final details of the murder but that wasn’t how it went at all. The last hundred pages is devoted to something else entirely. The structure was quite genius after reading it (at least I thought so).
The only truly annoying thing about this book for me was that the romances followed what I refer to as “main character syndrome.” This is when the main characters of the book are suddenly the love interest for every available person around them. Everyone was either sexually attracted to Mikael or Salander. I can understand them being described as attractive people, but I personally thought that was a little unrealistic. Then again, maybe not.
Side note: These people drink an inhuman amount of coffee. If I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned making coffee or filling up the coffee pot with water, I could pay a chunk of my student loans.
But if I had to leave you with any lasting thoughts about this book, I would simply say this. Read it. Even if you aren’t a fan of murder mysteries (I wasn’t really before I read this). You never know, Stieg Larsson and his superior writing could change your mind, and I fully intend to read the next one.
Overall rating: 4.5
R.I.P Steig Larsson