Full disclosure here, because that's how I roll. I must have started and stopped reading this book at least half a dozen times. It has been on my "currently reading" list at Goodreads.com for at least three weeks. I heard how great StiegLarsson's books were, and I wanted to love them, too, but I had a hard time getting into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...at first. At almost 600 pages, I had better love this book, I thought. After the foreword is an imposing chart of the Vanger family tree. A chart? Not a good sign.
I persevered. It paid off. Big time.
The first hundred pages is a lot of background information on the characters, the companies, and the dealings of anyone and anything you will need to know once the story is underway. For anyone who knows about the inner-workings of the financial markets, you'll love this stuff. For anyone, like me, who doesn't know the first thing about banking (my husband doesn't even let me touch the checkbook), it wasn't too painful, but don't get bogged down in it. You won't miss the meat of the book, I promise. Once you've been introduced to all the whos and whats of the book, then they can get all intertwined and interesting!
By page 92, the big mystery was introduced. Around page 300, I read the first big clue, I was hooked and the pages were flying by. By page 400, I was totally engrossed that I hadn't even noticed a basketball that hit my chair while my kids were playing a round of h-o-r-s-e. At page 450, I had no clue what the end was going to be (I love that). On page 455, my stomach turned. On page 457, I gasped out loud. On page 486, I had chills. On page 502, I almost shed a tear. Finally, on page 590, I felt completely satisfied at finishing a great book.
The family tree that intimidated me before the book even started? I won't lie, I needed it. There was a large cast of characters, but each was unique, with his own voice and back story. It was obvious that Larsson took great pains to build a believable, even if not always likable, character in Lisbeth Salander, our title character.
I hate to even call this book a "murder mystery" because it was so much more than that, and unlike any of the other typical mystery books out there. I'm really looking forward to reading Larsson's next book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire.
About the Book: Paperback: 608 pages Publisher: Vintage (June 23, 2009) Language: English ISBN-10: 0307454541 ISBN-13: 978-0307454546
Synopsis: A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.
It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, Henrik, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.
And it’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired by Henrik to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism—and a surprising connection between themselves.
A contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of whom must face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.