Originally published in Sweden as Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, which means “men who hate women” in Swedish, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005) by Stieg Larsson is a very dark mystery. Stieg Larsoon died in 2004 leaving three related novels called the “Millennium Trilogy” unpublished. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of the three. The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2007) complete the trilogy.
Mikael Blomkvist, the lead character, is a financial journalist and publisher recently found guilty of libel and has a prison sentence looming over him. With his reputation damaged and his financial news magazine Millennium in trouble, Blomkvist decides to take on a yearlong assignment that will remove his from the limelight.
Henrik Vanger is the patriarch of a well known and rich family with internationally known conglomeration of companies. Vanger hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his great niece; she disappeared without a trace forty years ago and is believed to have been murdered by a family member. Lisbeth Salander, a strangely captivating character, is an anti-social punk with a dragon tattoo that has unique talents that she uses to do investigative work. Her separate story line is as interesting and intriguing as the main plot.
Blomkvist and Salander unit to solve this mystery and their relationship grows. I hope the duo continues to develop their relationship in the next two books. Together they solve the decades old mystery in a twist that I did not anticipate, well at least not completely.
I have not read the other two books, and did not find the third one in the EVPL collection, but my understanding is that the books grow increasingly dark and violent. Although the Swedish title and undoubtedly the novel itself contains violence against women, that is not really what the plot is about. It is understandable that the name of the book was changed for publication in the US – the original title is a misnomer, at least in the first book. I enjoyed Dragon and will read the others eventually.