It happened every year, was almost a ritual.
***Read as part of the Through the Wardrobe Debut Novels Challenge***
In 2008, every English-speaking reader was talking about one book series – the Millennium trilogy. It took the literary world by storm and became a multi-awarding success almost overnight. The opening title to the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, won seven awards alone and the series as a whole received global attention, selling millions of copies worldwide. But there was to be a sad twist in the tale – the author, Stieg Larsson, was unable to revel in his astronomical success as his trilogy was published posthumously.
Set as a locked room mystery on an island, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, could easily be read as a standalone novel and if the characters weren’t as intricate and interesting as they are, it may well have been. There’s intrigue, violence, mystery and journalism aplenty in this addictive debut – you will race through the pages (I promise!) for Larsson is a born crime writer, who grounds his story with a dichotomy of unpredictable characters. He is able to weave a plethora of complex and detailed storylines together without losing pace or drama and, despite some of the technical lines going over my head and names getting confused, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a gripping read.
This book was originally published in Sweden in 2005 under the title (when translated) Men Who Hate Women. Larsson himself had many hats – activist, journalist, author, academic – and in this novel he explores the roles of men in society and their differing attitudes to women. To put men under the microscope properly a foil is needed to counterbalance and Larsson’s foil is the impeccably complex Lisbeth Salander. She is a woman who exists, survives and thrives despite the inadequacies of the men around her. She is a tough nut to crack with a photographic memory and the ability to take on and predict the actions of her investigative subjects. She is vulnerable and damaged yet impenetrably strong and, for me, she makes this a book worth reading.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is so much more than an addictive crime drama – it is a story of vengeance, blame, privacy and secrecy. It makes social and political statements as well as entertain and captivate. Ethics and ownership are explored and the story gets darker the deeper you are drawn into it… which might just explain the popularity of the Millennium series!