[I set myself the task of reading the book and then watching the film at the cinema within a week and here are my results.]
The book (part 1 of a trilogy) was originally published in Sweden as ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ (which means ‘Men who hate women’) by Stieg Larsson in 2005. It was translated into English and the title changed in 2008 (533 pages). Stieg unfortunately died of a heart attack in 2004, before they were published.
The book starts with an almost overwhelming heaping of introductions – there must be 50 names or so mentioned in the first 100 pages before the extended family make an appearance – and I struggled to keep everyone’s names in my head, but after I realised that there are really only 10 key characters and jettisoned the rest I could settle down into the story.
At it’s centre this is a crime thriller – a classic who-dunnit, but the differences here are that the case is 40 years old (Henrik Vanger is the family member who can’t let it lie) and the person investigating it is a journalist (Mikael Blomkvist). The titular girl is a mid-twenties goth hacker, astute but introverted and her story is started from near the beginning of the book. The two strands run separately for a fair while before overlapping, which is nicely done.
Larsson writes in a methodical and very readable style, but it’s a tad rough around the edges. Some of the social interactions are awkward with obvious outcomes (Blomkvist’s first meeting with Vanger for example) and as with any crime thriller there are bound to be expositional sections of text, but for the most part these are believable, with the exception of a few things here and there. The description of some rooms is bafflingly detailed for seemingly no reason. Occasionally there are actually adverts/product placements in the novel though which is so shockingly blatant to be hilarious. I might start dropping adverts into my conversations for a while in honour. Read the paragraphs below for two of the worst examples.
The main characters themselves are likeable too (Blomkvist and Salander) and you nearly cheer for Salander when she gets a bit of revenge on someone midway through.
As for the ending, although I had guessed part of it early on, I wasn’t sure, was kept guessing and I didn’t get it all. But once the main reveal happens there are still 100 pages to go which feel irrelevant and there only for future plot strands.
Overall an enjoyable romp of a read.
3 on 5