Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Series: Millennium Trilogy, book 1
Published: 2005 (Sweden) 2008 (US)
Recommendation: Gripping. Suspenseful. Two thumbs up.
Summary: Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, is hired by an aging billionaire Henrik Vanger to look into the mysterious disappearance of his niece 40 years ago. She was on an island with a number of relatives when she disappeared and the crime has never been solved. Lisbeth Salander is a private investigator with an unusual personality and mysterious history. Together they may be able to shed light on some of the Vanger family mysteries.
Reactions: The title of this book has caught my attention a while back, but I never gotten to looking into the book until I read a very positive review on one of the blogs I follow. Then I decided to give this Swedish mystery a try myself. It turned out that I enjoyed the book a lot.
Part of the appeal of the book to me was the elaborate story. The family history for the Vagner family is described in rich, intricate details. The characters are very well drawn out -- the good guys have serious flaws and the bad guys can be likable. Some of the characters are very difficult to peg into any category for a long time and the book just keeps revealing more about them throughout.
Overall, the plot moves quite well. I've stayed up late at night reading, completely unable to stop because I kept getting hooked on the action. However, there is a strange flow to the plot because even though the main mystery gets solved about 5/6th of the way into the book, there are still a 100 or so pages at the end dedicated to resolving other story lines. That felt a little strange, but at the end I was very satisfied how everything was wrapped up.
The story also ended up being darker than I expected at first. There are several rather graphic scenes in the book, some of them very violent. But at the same time, the tone is not depressing. There are obstacles to overcome and each character deals with their own problems in their own ways without getting bogged down in sentimentality.
To sum it up, this was a top notch read and if you get a chance, pick up the books. I have already started reading the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire.