book: Stieg Larsson “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

I first heard about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as a movie and was going to go see it when Mark Kermod’s review mentioned that you really had to be aware of the disturbing violence that occurs in some scenes, so I decided to avoid it.  Then I went to the dentist and she said the book was really good – so I gave it a try thinking that it is easier to stop reading something than to walk out of a film if it was too much.  It wasn’t (for me at least) ‘too much’ however, when I saw a schoolgirl on the underground reading this book I really wanted to take it off her – it struck me that the movie is certified as 18 but there is no limitations on books.

So I better deal with the controversial stuff straight away – basically there are some disturbing stories of people’s past sexual abuse and a graphic masochistic rape scene.  However, in the book at least, these points aren’t particularly dwelt on or glorified and are integral to the story and character development.  IMHO, since these are so much part of the plot the scenes are necessary and valid but people should be aware of the nature of the plot.

That out of the way I found this a very interesting book to read.  It opened very slowly by gradually introducing two characters in their own parallel plots.  The first is Mikael Blomkvist a financial Journalist and Lisbeth Salander the strange enigmatic and mysterious girl with the dragon tattoo herself.  The slowness I felt was due to having to learn more about the financial reporting of industry in Sweden than I ever thought I would need to know.  But this does pass reasonably quickly and we settle into a strange investigation into the disappearance of a girl in 1966 which probably was her murder.  Our two main characters are drawn together by this investigation and things are slowly revieled.

This book is all about the characters involved. The murder-mystery is almost coincidental in comparison to Blomkvist’s investigation of the Vanger family members and of course the very strange but well drawn character of Lisbeth herself who by the end of the book I found myself simply wanting to read more about her, find out about her past and how she became who she is…  just as well this is the first in a series.

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