This one is a real thriller, almost from the beginning. There is no guessing which way it will turn and who will get hurt.
We begin with Mikael Blomqvist, journalist and publisher of Millenium, a magazine that exposes the truth about a wide range of issues through extensive investigative work, discussing the publication of a "themed" issue on the subject of the sex trade in Sweden, as well as publishing a book on the subject, with his staff and the guy who is writing the book. The group gives the idea the green light and the race is on to get the magazine together and the book done in time for both to be published simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander, diminutive but tough "girl with the dragon tattoo", has taken time off from any kind of work to assess her options. She has accumulated enough money to last her lifetime, so when she returns from spending over a year abroad she sets about getting herself another, larger apartment. Consistent with her constant paranoia, she makes sure nobody can find her. Yet she hangs on to her old apartment, and in fact offers it to an occasional lover who could use a little more room. She had cut off all contact with Blomqvist when she left the country and is not interested in seeing him again. She found she cared too much for him.
It turns out that Lisbeth's and Mikael's lives are bound to cross again, however. The sex-trade investigation leaks into parts of Lisbeth's own past. Because so many people's reputations (and perhaps free lives) are going to be adversely affected by the publication of the book, there is a good chance of danger to those involved.
In one night everything goes to hell and Lisbeth is on the run. Or, perhaps more correctly, in hiding. In different ways, Mikael, the police, and Lisbeth, as well as Lisbeth's former employer, are all trying to put the pieces together to make sense of a horrifying tragedy.
This one had me short of breath at times. I couldn't easily put it down and had to make promises to myself, to reward myself with more reading after I had done the things that had to be done around the house. I am glad I had a break from the first in the series because it increased my anticipation of the second, and now there will be another break before I read the third. During this break I intend to find out more about Larsson, about how he became such an advocate for women.