Friday, September 11, 2009

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- Cinnamon's thoughts

note- this may give away details of the plot....

A satisfying read. All the loose ends tied up at the end. A substantial plot with several climaxes. As a crime thriller though, not for the fainthearted. If this were a film it would have a rating of '18' at least. The scenes of sadistic rape and torture were painful to read. Each section of the book is introduced by a presumably accurate statistic about the extent of sexual violence and domestic abuse against women in Sweden. Shocking. I am uncertain whether the cause of these women is served by fictionalising this violence. Larsson makes good points about the role of power and its misuse in these situations. Although Lisbeth's revenge (against her guardian) is clever, I was uncomfortable knowing that our justice systems today are up against people of such cunning evil that no other option would be open to a victim. Abduction, torture and murder of disenfranchised women continues today and the novel seems to suggest that the high-profile serial-killer cases that come to light are just the tip of the iceberg.

The evil of fascist, neo-Nazi politics and the criminal activities of big corporations are other causes for reflection. As is the apparent ease with which it is possible for someone with the know-how to hack into a computer. I have been so naive!

I was surprised when the name of Enid Blyton came up when the authors on a bookshelf (was it Henrik's?) were listed. I later read that Larsson was a fan, also of Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking- on whom he based the character of Lisbeth ( a grown-up version). Mmmm.. a very grown up version!

There were many autobiographical elements- the author himself was a journalist, a vehement anti-nazi campaigner, a publisher of Expo, an independent Swedish anti-racist magazine, and himself a veteran of death threats. So we can surmise the character of Blomkvist is based on Larsson. Sadly the author, a 60-a-day smoker and a workaholic, died aged 50 from a heart attack in 2004- take note any driven authors out there.

I thought the pacing of the book was brilliant- considering the 2 main investigators do not even meet until the middle of the book, the threads of the strory were very cleverly woven. I thought all the characters were plausible (even Lisbeth)- but it is not edifying to think that we are so flawed as these characters are portrayed. It is not edifying to think that relationships are carried on in the absence of love. It is not edifying to think of the skeletons in our family histories- but all sadly plausible.

When we read the Martha Grimes I felt I was an outsider trying to get to grips with a group of characters that had a history together. The same is true of other series of books- Enid Blyton's 'The Famous Five', for example- you can't just read one in isolation- you have to read to read them in sequence. Larsson has 2 more in this trilogy. I am very tempted to see where he takes these characters next...


  1. Hi Cinnamon, sorry I didn't reply sooner. I was having fun in Boston and didn't spend too much time at the computer till night time when I was staggering toward bed.


    I agree that the seriousness of subject matter should be mentioned to those that would prefer not to be smacked over the head with such true life horrors. At the beginning of the book, those tidbits of quite possibly true statistics confused me as I didn't understand the significance. I never did check to see if the stats were true, but nonetheless the idea of them is quite disturbing.

    I've recently picked up some contemporary lit set in Sweden, Norway and other northern countries. Having never learned the history of practically any place outside of the US, it never occurred to me to wonder at the past and present of many countries that may not be consider a major or significant power/voice in the world. This book was definitely an eye opener of just possibilities.

    The two main characters were very interesting. I enjoyed how their respective stories were so intertwined without them ever having met. Like you and am curious to know how these characters will be developed.

    On a side note, Pippi Longstocking? Really? I like Pippi and I would never have thought that she'd be something like Lisbeth. Pippi was super intelligent, but I wouldn't call her unsocial.

  2. Hi Cuppa Jo! Glad you had fun in Boston :). I also find that reading often sets me on a course to discover facts about other places I have never visited. I like a book which does that!

    I do not know if I will ever have time to read the next one; I have so many books on the go- but it would make a good holiday read I think.

    yes- truly- Pippi Longstocking! Author's own words!