Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson

I've seen this book everywhere. In bookstores, grocery stores, pet stores, and it's probably sold in tattoo parlors. Why not? I had no burning desire to read it myself until it was highly recommended by a friend. She warned me the beginning was slow.

Stuck on a plane to Calgary, having already read the inflight magazine and flipped through Sky Mall, I had no choice but to slog through it. Laborious. But my friend said she couldn't put it down. So I started looking at the page number, waiting for that magic moment of "Oooh, this is getting good now." 250. Yep, it took that long for it to pick up for me. And yes, I put it down several times to gaze at the tiny fields and clouds and wonder if the line for the bathroom would ever disappear. It made me wonder how in the world this story got through the publication process. Swedish editors must be far more patient with story development compared to their American counterparts.

The beginning deals with financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist's trial for commiting libel against a corrupt businessman. I got bored with all the details--finance ain't my cup of tea. I did wake up whenever the story switched to the titular character, Lizbeth Salander. With her dubious background, young age, and unlikely position as an investigator for a security company, this character jumped off the page.

The middle of the book is the best. Blomkvist is charged with discovering what really happened to the missing-presumed-murdered young girl from a prominent family chock full of nuts--including a Nazi sympathizer. It's a who-done-it with a large cast of suspects, plot twists, and a shocking ending. Good stuff.

Reasonable place to end things, right? Nope, we go for another 140 pages for Blomkvist and Salander to expose the corrupt businessman from the beginning. In case you're wondering, the paperback version I'm holding is nearly 650 pages. I like long books, but would have been sorely tempted as an editor to cut way back on the beginning and ending. Is this a good book? Yes, it is, but it takes a while to get going.

As a sad footnote, Larsson passed away before the books in his wildly successful trilogy were published.


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