The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Reading intellectually stimulating books is one thing, but there is nothing like reading a crime thriller. The former is like watching a documentary on Vietnam war. You need to be attentive, lest you miss some minor point. The latter, on the other hand, is like watching a thriller movie in which it is okay if you missed the initial few scenes because the most important thing is the climax fight or the chase. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a crime thriller but you would not want to miss any part of the book because there is not a single, dull moment in the book.

This book was originally written in Swedish and was named 'Män som hatar kvinnor', literal translation means 'Men who hate women'. What a lame title! Thank Heavens someone had the brains to change the title of the English version, otherwise I would definitely not have picked this book to read. This book is part of a trilogy called Millennium trilogy. The author had an unexpected death just before his work was published. His books went on to become best-sellers and he did not live to see it!

The first book in the trilogy is about Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, who is a freak in the social world. She keeps to herself and behaves in a way for the others to think she is mentally unwell. What the world does not know is that she is an investigator and a hacker par excellence. Mikhael Blomkvist loses his money and credibility in a libel case. When he decides to take a break from his role as publisher of the magazine, he gets hired for an unexpected but interesting task by Henrik Vanger. His assignment is to crack the murder mystery of Vanger's niece Harriet which occurred some forty years back. Harriet disappears one fine day and nobody has any trace of her after that day. Vanger is sure someone killed her and to mock him, the murderer sends him a birthday gift every year. Vanger's only aim in life is to track the murderer and make him pay for it. The book is about how Mikhael, along with Lisbeth, solves this mystery. The plot is set in a fictional place in Sweden.

The book has a very promising start. With the first word, you are bang in the middle of all the action. The plot is interesting, to say the least. The author builds up an air of mystery around Harriet's disappearance and the reader so badly wants to know what on earth really happened to that girl. The main characters are believable, the most mysterious and interesting being Lisbeth. She comes across as innocent, yet shrewd. Her thoughts about how the world functions and her way of getting things she wants and how relationships work makes a very good read. You can't help but want to reach out and give her a hug. Blomkvist, according to me, comes across as plain. The protagonist of murder mysteries is usually a handsome hunk, who every living woman finds attractive and falls for, but not Blomkvist, atleast I didn't fall for him.

Though the book is quite big, it moves really fast. The story is quick paced and the eagerness to solve the mystery will make you finish the book in one sitting. The plot, the way the mystery is solved and the twists involved are all great, but the reason for the crime is lame. Somehow, in the end when the mystery is solved, you will ask yourself 'What the heck!'. Larsson has a great story to tell but he should have made his murderer more believable. The motive is not strong enough. Nevertheless, a great book and a perfect one to pick up when you are done with something heavy and need a filler.