Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
Although the book and its title is about Lisbeth Salander, the majority of the story involves the investigation of a woman's disappearance over 40 years before, and the investigation is by Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited journalist. Salander's story is intertwined with Mikael's until the two finally meet and connect in a way neither, perhaps, has before.
Salander is an antisocial 25-year-old woman who has been a problem all her life and is therefore a ward of the court, subject to the whims of her so-called guardian. But she is no victim. She ultimately controls others, directly or otherwise. And her appearance, small, thin, and often sullen and withdrawn, belies her sharp intelligence and instincts. She is fortunate to find herself a freelance place with a security company, where she does investigations and turns out to be the most gifted and capable investigator there. Or perhaps anywhere, given her lust for information. She is hired to investigate Mikael Blomkvist by the head of a large industrial company, Henrik Vanger, who wants to know as much as he can learn about the journalist before hiring him to investigate the disappearance of his niece. Because of this association, Salander later meets Blomkvist and assists him in the investigation.
While the plot is complex the story is really about the characters Blomkvist and Salander. Don't be misled and think it's a romance. While there is sex it is far from any kind of romance I've read. Thank heaven. The characters are absorbing, unique, believable. Throughout the book are statistics about women and violence in Sweden, which offer a hint of the underlying theme here, which is about women, strong women, and abuses of power, including violence against women. The actions and thoughts of the women read very real to me, which makes me curious about Stieg Larsson and his life and how he came to have such a passionate and compassionate understanding of women. My sister Cathy, who sent me this book, said the same thing, that she was curious, wants to know how he came to this place.
The story is interesting on another level as well. Because it is set in Sweden and by a Swedish writer, the Swedish culture and laws are embedded in it. Books written from "the inside" rather than by an observer give us truer pictures, I suspect, of life in other countries.
I have already put the other two books in this series on my wishlist and I suspect I will just order them soon.