By Stieg Larsson
What good timing. I was nearing completion of my looong journey with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and a friend lent me the first book of the Millenium trilogy. What better way to pass a long cold winter than to segue from one bestseller to the next?
The setup is clever and fairly complex. Corporate intrigue and corruption, long-buried family secrets, cold murder cases, serial killers and investigative journalism are all intertwined to make a very compelling story.
The characters are pure fantasy. Mikael Blomkvist is Larsson’s idea of the perfect manly journalist: ethical, courageous and shit-disturbing, not to mention charming and good-looking too, since he has no problem bedding the majority of the main female characters he encounters.
And his counterpoint, Lisbeth Salander. She may be anorexic, androgynous and asocial, but she has a photographic memory and is a brilliant hacker to boot. What’s more, she is uncannily resourceful. Her job at a successful security firm allows her to freely “borrow” state-of-the-art equipment for her personal use, which could be wreaking vengeance upon a sadistic guardian or tracking a potential serial killer. And nobody’s personal computer is safe from Salander if she wants to invade your privacy, not even the CEO of an international corporation!
Despite the fantastic elements and the rather unsubtle sexual politics, I still quite enjoyed the novel as a whole. I loved the loner character of Lisbeth, even the rather implausible ending where she metaphorically twists the knife on gangster businessman Wennerström, just because she discovers that he mistreats women. Lisbeth also gets to deliver the best vengeance scenes too!
This book definitely kept me up late a couple of nights, sucked into a vortex of page-turning curiosity, as Blomkvist and Salander (Swedish names do not a catchy duo make) uncover each clue.
See also Mt Benson’s review of the same book.