Actually making another entry for “The Book of Sawce” a lot sooner than I thought I would. See, the book I chose for the mystery/thriller part of the challenge was originally Murder on the Orient Express. Obviously, I changed things around a bit when I picked this up for about $2. It’s been on my to-read list for a hot minute, so this was a good excuse to finally get around to it. Don’t think I’ll be getting to the other two books in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy for a while since backlog, but my enjoyment of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ensures ol’ Sawce’ll read them someday.
The story begins as Mikael Blomkvist, co-publisher of Millennium, loses a libel case against this dirtbag businessman named Wennerstrom. Blomkvist’s career is pretty much ruined, so he tells his partner–of both the business and boot-knocking persuasions–Erika Berger he needs to step away from the magazine for a while for damage control. She reluctantly accepts even though they both know he’s essentially tucking tail and running. Lucky for him, the reclusive former CEO of the Vanger Corporation, Henrik Vanger, wishes to hire him to write his family’s history. Fine enough on the surface, but then Vanger reveals what he actually wants Blomkvist to do is investigate the disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger which occurred almost 40 years ago.
Vanger feels confident in having Blomkvist do this since he’s already had a thorough background check done on the journalist by the titular Lisbeth Salander–a highly skilled but asocial private investigator. Salander is an enigma to all who meet her. She dresses in what could best be described as a “punk” style, but her genius is undeniable. Most see her as a possible victim for predators–including her second legal guardian who just so happens to be a sadistic piece of shit. He, like many others, winds up realizing that she is not to be trifled with. She eventually winds up joining Blomkvist in his search for the truth of what happened to Harriet, and the two uncover something much, much worse than anyone imagined.
Kinda had a hard time doing a quick synopsis of this one. I said everything I thought was relevant, but even then, I felt like I needed two paragraphs to do it. That’s a pretty good metaphor for this book actually. Don’t get me wrong since I will soon talk about how much I liked this book, but it feels like it has entirely too much within its pages. Someone (ex. me) could pick this book up and think our two protagonists team up pretty early to crack the case. Nope. Sure, Salander does her research on Blomkvist early in the book, but the two don’t actually meet face to face until page 324. Yeah. Book’s 590 pages long. I felt a little misled. Also, Dragon Tattoo has what feels like a 100-page long epilogue. Not even kidding. Maybe others see it differently, but that’s what I think of it.
Okay, that’s most of the unpleasantness out of the way: I loved this book. It’s one of those where I didn’t really think I was being engrossed in it until I saw I’d already knocked out a couple hundred pages in the first day. Granted, a lot of that might’ve just been me wanting to get to where the two main characters meet and finally get to interact. It took a while, but it was satisfying. Salander and Blomkvist are both great characters and play off each other extremely well. Well, Salander’s probably a better character than Blomkvist. He kinda comes off as too wish fulfillment-y when it comes to his sex life. The supporting characters are pretty awesome as well. I was happy every time Erika Berger and Henrik Vanger showed up for scenes. The other members of the Vanger family always brought the intrigue, and the rest of the Millennium staff was just fun to see.
This is definitely a good pick if you’re looking for a mystery or thriller. There were a couple of pieces to the puzzle I got pretty early on (which is a miracle for me), but the truth of the whole situation still caught me by surprise. Larsson was very good at making you feel like this was a leisurely read at times, so when the suspense and action kicked in, you really feel it. Again, though, what I view as the epilogue just felt tacked on and seemed like it existed solely to tie up loose ends. It didn’t gel with the rest of the novel at all. This book is also super dark. Like, if you don’t have a strong constitution, then you might want to stay away from this one. Rape, murder, and animal cruelty are present throughout. Just a heads up.
Despite it not being as lean a book as I feel it should have been, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is still a fantastic read–as you can tell from all the awards and reviews and film adaptions. It’s mysterious, thrilling, and even a little funny at times. Definitely check it out. After this, I’ll be reading a book with a one-word title. What will it be? Stay tuned to find out.