Investigate “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Take two endlessly complex and fascinating protagonists, stir in some investigative journalism gone wrong, add a dash of political and corporate intrigue and espionage, top it all off with an investigation into the decades-old disappearance of a young school-girl, and the result is a riveting debut novel by Swedish author, Stieg Larsson.

By Cody Naylor

Staff Writer

Take two endlessly complex and fascinating protagonists, stir in some investigative journalism gone wrong, add a dash of political and corporate intrigue and espionage, top it all off with an investigation into the decades-old disappearance of a young school-girl, and the result is a riveting debut novel by Swedish author, Stieg Larsson.

Larsson, who died in 2004, weaves an intricate and well mapped-out tale that centers around Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and part-owner of the edgy magazine, “Millennium,” and Lisbeth Salander, a street-smart, tattooed punk-rocker who works as a free lance personal investigator for a Swedish securities firm.

The story begins with Blomkvist on trial for libel on an exposé he wrote concerning one of Sweden’s most ruthless and cunning corporate C.E.O.’s, Hans-Erik Wennerström. Mikael is convicted and sentenced to pay a hefty fine and to serve an undetermined stint in prison. Consequently, he is fired from his position as editor for “Millennium” by the majority-owner, Erika Berger.

Afterwards, Blomkvist is contacted by Henrik Vanger, the former C.E.O of the now-waning Vanger Corporation, to investigate the forty-year-old disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger. Vanger proposes that Blomkvist live on his private, family-owned island for a year so he can investigate the disappearance and interrogate all the immediate family members until a reasonable explanation for the girl’s unsolved disappearance is reached. In return, Vanger promises to pay Blomkvist a substantial amount of money and give him the evidence he needs to get back at Wennerström for ruining his professional reputation. After much hesitation, Blomkvist accepts the eccentric patriarch’s offer.

Lisbeth Salander’s role is introduced when she is assigned to investigate Mikael Blomkvist by Henrik Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode. The two main characters eventually become entwined in the investigation of both Harriet Vanger and Wennerström that leads them down a path full of suspenseful, late-night discoveries, and the eventual uncovering of a dark family secret.

While some English-speaking readers will struggle with the Swedish names and locations in the story and the pace can vary unevenly from slow and informative to recklessly thrilling, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a fantastic and genuinely interesting ride that will leave the reader both satisfied for having invested the time to digest all 590 pages of it, and yet keep them salivating until the sure-to-excite sequel is released.