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Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

February 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 134

Sweden is frequently being touted as one of the most desirable countries to reside in. And rightly so. Swedes enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, powered by one of the most globalized and competitive economies and the prized social welfare system. Education is for the most part free. Crime rate is low. Healthcare is cheap and accessible to everyone. Childcare is universal and spanking of children is a criminal offence. Gender discrimination is practically non-existent. You'd be hard pressed to find more environmentally aware people than Swedes.

Sounds pretty darn near perfect -- so it's a little surprising (or not?) that as of late literary depictions of society coming from the land of the midnight sun are often in sharp contrast with the country's impeccable image, suggesting that Swedes might not be so far detached from their Viking days after all. The most glaring example of this trend is the immensely popular Millennium trilogy of mystery novels, written by late Stieg Larsson; the picture he paints in his celebrated work is one of a gruesome, cynical world involving gut-wrenching sexual violence, misogyny, sadism, murder, intrigue and corruption at the highest corporate and governmental levels.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is book one of the renowned trilogy. At the center of the story is Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and co-owner of a monthly magazine Millennium who finds himself convicted of aggravated libel of a shady corporate magnate - albeit under dubious circumstances.

The sentence includes a monetary fine and a three-month term in prison, but even worse, Blomkvist faces professional disgrace and is forced to step down as the magazine's publisher and member of the board. And just when he gets reconciled with the idea of spending the next few months moping in self-pitying idleness, a strange job offer comes his way from Henrik Vanger, an 82 year old patriarch of the powerful Vanger family: the old man wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his great-niece Harriet who went missing at the age of 16 -- 36 years ago. Vanger believes she was murdered by a member of his own family and wants to take another shot at solving the mystery before his days are over.

The offer is not something Blomkvist would jump on in a normal situation, but right now he has little else to do, there is a generous payment involved and -- probably most important of all -- Vanger has hinted he's in the possession of certain incriminating information on the shady magnate that has cost Blomkvist his reputation, and that he'd be willing to share this information with Blomkvist -- after the job is done.

So Blomkvist moves to the small island in the north of Sweden where the Vanger estate is located and where the events took place almost four decades ago and delves into it. He sifts through old police reports and family photos, talks to family members still living on the island and soon some of the family's dark secrets long buried come to the surface. Having reached a point where he can't make further progress without the help of a skilled researcher, he recruits Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo) who works part time for a Stockholm security firm, to help him.

Salander is something of a social outcast: tough, distrustful, unforgiving, sporting a violent temper ready to flare up whenever she feels threatened. She is 24 but looks 14 and is riddled with piercings and tattoos -- but she also has photographic memory, incredible computer hacking skills and an uncanny ability to discover anything about anyone, especially when it comes to dirt.

The unusual duo pools their unique skills and little by little they start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. An attempt at Blomkvist's life confirms they are on the right track -- but the incident also makes them realize that the case they are working on may not be so cold after all...

Visit JustGoodFiction.com for more best seller reviews.

Source: EzineArticles
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