Friday, May 8, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson * * * * *

First let's introduce Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, in her first appearance as a freelance researcher for a security company run by Armansky:
Armansky was bewildered and also angry with himself for having so obviously misjudged her. He had taken her for stupid, maybe even retarded. He had not expected a girl who cut so many classes in school that she did not graduate could write a report so grammatically correct. It also contained detailed observations and information, and he quite simply could not comprehend how she could have acquired such facts.
Lisbeth Salander (90 pounds, 4' 11" with a flat chest) is a strong, complex female protagonist and when the movie comes out, she could well compete with Jason Bourne or Frank Martin in The Transporter.

Ostensibly, the story is a murder mystery. Thirty-six years ago, a teenage girl disappeared from an island when the bridge was out, thus limiting the list of suspects. What separates this book from the multitude of second-rate, formulaic whodunits is the richness of the characters and the intertwined subplots, any of which would make a fine novel in today's market.

If you only read one mystery thriller this summer, this should be it.

Translation note: This is obviously a British translation (gaol for jail, turnover for revenues). Also the original Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women. Other than that, I found the translation did not interfere with my reading enjoyment.

LGBT Book Watch: While much of the plot centers on the sexual abuse of women by men, there are brief scenes of gay, lesbian and bisexual encounters. The book might be marked down because these were passing liaisons and not stable relationships, but this is balanced by the tone of acceptance and normality used. Certainly, compared the the brutalization of women by heterosexual men so central to the story, the homosexual scenes were all idyllic and sweetness.

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