Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Somewhat ambitiously, I took four books on our nine day Christmas vacation. Long days in a wintery cabin were spent not reading, however, but snuggling on couch with sister and staring adoringly at beloved nephew with husband. Therefore I only read one book, which I started on the airplane out and finished on the airplane in: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. It's a mystery story that takes place in Sweden. It's a translation, so that may account for what frequently comes off as stilted language.

It's a "page turner", as they say, in the grand tradition of the Dan Browns and Michael Connellys of this world, and of about the same literary merit. It's about a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who gets hired by a wealthy business owner to unravel a decades-old family secret. Along the way, a young woman, Lisbeth Salander, becomes involved. She's something of a private investigator and has some unexplained mental condition and social conditioning that leaves her with a different set of moral and ethical values than most of world generally agrees on.

Each section of the book begins with a quote like, "Forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man." Lending an ostensibly pro-woman, anti-violence theme to the book. The fact that the book glorifies violence toward women in its graphic exploration of the same theme is a bit problematic, to say the least.

I love reading books about different cultures, but this book reads as if the story were in any generic place, only all the places have Swedish names. So, it's not unusual to read a sentence like, "She took the tunnelbana from Zinkensdamm to Östermalmstorg and walked down towards Strandvägen." Also, apparently in Sweden there is a statute of limitations on murder.

I wouldn't recommend this book unless you happen to really love murder mysteries. The author was obviously a huge fan of the genre himself and frequently his characters pick up a book by Sue Grafton or the like for some casual reading. I'm vaguely interested in learning more about Lisbeth, but not enough to read the other books in the series. I'm sure there will be a movie soon enough.

1 comment:

Deleilan said...

All 3 books have been adapted as movies; check IMDB.com for more information.