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on September 14, 2008
I read this book in french. It is the first part of a trilogy. This is not your "usual" thriller. The characters are very important and the author takes his time to present each one of them with the location in the first 100 pages. So the reader must not be impatient. The first book has a story in itself. The second book has the same main characters but the plot is different and the third book starts exactly where the second ends.
I thought the second was better than the first and the third was the best of the three.
The sad news is the author died of a heart attack just after giving the manuscript to his editor. So there will not be a fourth book.
This is a page turner, I could not put it down and everyone who read it (on my recommendation) loved it.
A definite MUST.
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I was late in picking up the two first books of Stieg Larsson's trilogy and when I did I decided to leave them for the beach. I can now assure you that THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is much more than a summer page-turner.

The story flows effortlessly yet is full of unexpected turns. Looking back one can only admit that, although he did not see it coming, the outcome was to be expected. No suspension of disbelief required here, the story could easily have been taken from news-reports. Larsson was a master of understanding human nature and life's minute nuisances.
What is more, this book reminded me of the good old classics that contained a healthy dose of moral lessons within their gripping story. Good literature should entertain as much as it make you think.

The only thing I regret is not being able to read Larsson in the original Swedish (always a handicap) but as far as I can tell the translation (by Steven T. Murray, under the nom-de-plume of Reg Keeland) is fluid and very well done. No awkward phrasing or translation artifacts that would gum up the experience. The book might as well have been written in English.

It is very unfortunate that Larsson died so young. He would have had a stellar carrier as a writer in front of him. Non the less, his Millennium Trilogy is what he will be remembered by.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on January 25, 2013
This was an excellent book...it's much better than the movie. It was a very interesting experience to read this book because, when I picked it up, I had forgotten that I had seen the movie a few years prior. As I read the first few chapters I kept thinking that it was familiar until bang, it hit me that I'd seen the movie (which was complicated, hard to follow because of the odd Sweedish names, dark, too much emphasis on Salander's dealing with her guardian). So, while it kind of spoiled some of the fun, I found the book so much better than the movie that it was still a very intriguing suspense. The ethical dilemma that Blomkvist faces toward the end of the book is a neat twist and so is the trick that Salander pulls. I look forward to reading the next book and see what happens to the Salander character (i.e., the girl with the dragon tattoo). That said, one of the comments on the book's jacket said that it was a "sexy thriller" -- what a moron...the sex in this book cannot be described as sexy unless you're a pervert...it's cruel, it's controlling and only very marginally fulfilling...talk about missing the point...It's a very intelligent story and I'm still amazed that I found the story of such a creepy/dysfunctional family to be entertaining... This author was so gifted...I give it 5 stars (excellent).
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To me, this book is the most unexpected page-turning thriller I've read in some time. I couldn't wait for the next surprise.

I was reminded of first reading the early Ian Fleming books about James Bond, feeling like I'd entered a fascinating new world that I never had never dreamed of. But Stieg Larsson's writing is much better than Fleming's and these characters are more nuanced in their unusual characteristics.

The book defies normal novel categories. There are such a major story lines about both the hero and heroine that the novel would be more than adequate just developing those ideas. The mystery of a young woman's disappearance is more than adequate to sustain the interest of anyone who likes books about amateur detectives. In the background, there are dark secrets about a not-so-desirable family that would intrigue anyone who likes to read family sagas. What's remarkable is that these threads are very neatly combined so that you get a lot of story for your time, money, and reading pleasure.

Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist has a problem: He's written something that he can't prove and has been sued for criminal libel. His blunder costs him his savings, his reputation, and his freedom while threatening the survival of his publication. How will he and the magazine recover?

Lisbeth Salander wants her freedom and finds it hard to win. Although she's tremendously talented, her past holds secrets that pin her down much as Gulliver was by the tiny ropes of the Lilliputians.

Henrik Vanger wants to find out what happened to his grand niece, Harriet Vanger, who disappeared while an accident was being handled near her home. Can he persuade Blomkvist to help him?

There has been a search going on for Harriet Vanger for over forty years. What have they been overlooking?

What skeletons are hiding in the pro-Nazi closets of the older generation of the Vanger family? How do these skeletons affect the present?

You'll probably never meet a more unlikely detection team than Blomkvist and Salander. The unusual chemistry and motivation behind their joint efforts directs the story into many unexpected and interesting directions.

Stieg Larsson gives as much attention to his characters and their development as most mystery novelists do to their plots. As a result, you can relate to these characters quite well . . . as though you had already read ten books in which they interacted. He also takes the time to make these characters as unique as real people are, making them more vivid and rewarding to contemplate than the two-dimensional cutouts that serve as "characters" in most mystery novels.

His plot is also very fine: He usually doesn't telegraph what's coming next. People act as unpredictably as they do in real life . . . making the plot messy . . . as real life is messy.

I was delighted to learn that although Mr. Larsson has died that there are two more books coming. I can hardly wait!
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on December 28, 2015
Honestly, the sons of Vanger should forget business college and go to parenting school instead!

Anyway, co-owner of Millennium Magazine, Blomkviss is assigned to research a Kennedy-type clan who lives an insular life on a Swedish backwater called Hedeby Island. Chief industrialist and one of the sanest of his five brothers, Henrik is troubled by the receipt of a flower 40 years after the disappearance of his great-niece, Harriet. He believes the ‘killer’ is taunting him, as Harriet used to send Henrik a flower on his birthday. Aging Henrik desperately wants answers.

Straightaway, I am intrigued by the family of Vanger, most of which are a suspect to Harriet’s suspected murder. But it is wildcard, Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo) who makes real headway with her unorthodox approach that includes hacking. She is gifted, troubled and strikes an unlikely relationship with Blomkvist.

I found this book compelling reading, looking for answers to a puzzle I thought was in plain sight. It wasn’t quite that simple. Larsson is thorough with his scenes, believing the reader should follow Blomkvist’s journey through every development, no matter how small. The scenes with the photographs, for instance are in depth without being tedious. I wanted to grasp every meaning, without the desire to skim.

This was a big, juicy story involving decades of a large family possessing a cave full of skeletons, as well as a subplot involving magnate crook, Wennerstrom. It had all the ingredients for an unputdownable thriller: an atmospheric setting, sinister characters, a whodunit, a family tree and some maps toboot.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 19, 2015
This is the first book in the Dragon Tattoo triology. The author, Stieg Larsson, unfortunately died shortly after the manuscripts were completed which is such a great loss of an excellent writer. It now appears a fourth book will soon be available, The GIrl in the Spider's Web written by David Lagercrantz (it's on Amazon now for pre-order now and will be available Sept 2015).

I read many reviews before purchasing this book and so I knew ahead that there would be a detailed family tree introduced in the story and that some reviewers found that difficult to remember or get through. I didn't have any problem with it at all, but because of the pre-warning I paid more attention to the names to help me keep everyone straight. To me this part of the book didn't appear to be slow or boring. I saw it as the author presenting all the evidence and research of potential killers.

I found Salander to be a fascinating character. She's a street-wise bisexual gal who just happens to have a genius level IQ. But she has had a rough past and is dealing with a lot of emotional baggage. The story revolves around Salander and publisher/magazine owner Michal Blomkist as they research a 40 year mysterious disappearance of a young woman. The crimes that come out prove there's a nasty serial killer that's been operating for years.

The conclusion is a real surprise and I found the book to be a page turner all the way through. The other two books you will enjoy even more as the Salander and Blomkist story continues and Salander's past is revealed.

There are two movies based on the books and they are excellent as well. One covers all three books and is in Swedish with English sub titles. The other is in English and covers book 1 and parts of book 2. I own both and recommend them as well.

This is a series of books that you will want to keep to read again.
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on June 10, 2014
This book remains as one of my very favourite ones of all time. It is so intelligently written that it challenges other writers to match the style, character development, and plot. I read once that Larsson wrote this series for his own entertainment. I think I half-believe this statement, since he did go and drop off his manuscripts for publication, after all; but I can understand his motivation. There are simply very few books that can reach his transcendent style of writing. There are multiple layers of stories. There is the mystery of who Lisbeth Salander is and why she is so different from many other people. Then there is the layer of financial journalism, embodied in the persona of Mikael Blomkvist, which seeks to criticize the way in which major businesses and corporations mercilessly strip money out of every consumer for the sake of their own profiteering. Larsson was a passionate proponent of investigative journalism into dubious financial activities of several major corporations, and insisted that more responsible reporting be carried out to shed light on the activities of flagged organizations. His passion is eloquently expressed throughout these series and forms a plea to all humanity to see the reality of organizational behavior.

I read these books almost 5 years ago and still remember much about them. They will be one of the few that I will certainly read again in my life. Highly recommended.
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on August 29, 2013
This is a little like what used to be called a Police Procedural, but it is a hybrid because the primary investigator is a journalist not a policeman. That said, he operates along side the police for Volumes 2 and 3, i.e. The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which becomes a courtroom drama at the end. The three together are very satisfying, but the sense of what might have been had the remaining 7 hoped-for volumes is quite painful.

The first volume The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the journalists inquiry into the disappearance of a member of formerly prominent idustrialist's family. It is painstaking and clearly reveals just how difficult doing good research is, particularly long after the disappearance. It needs some patience though it resolves very well.

It introduces the glories of Lisbeth Salander, the very guarded, introverted computer researcher who appears also to have an eidetic (photographic) memory and to be exceptionally bright, and utterly fascinating as a character. Mikael Blomkvist is the journalist and is also a fascinating character, with a strict moral code, as has Salander, even if their codes aren't particularly congruent codes
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After reading so many positive reviews about this book and being attracted to it because it was written by a Swedish author, I decided to see for myself if it was all it was hyped up to be. It was. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked and read through the book in just a couple of days. I read this book on my Kindle and immediately downloaded Stieg Larsson's second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage). The book had all the features that I like in a novel, good character development, twists and turns in the plot, and a character who is a computer hacker. (What can I say, I like characters who can get information through devious means.) Lisbeth Salander, the hacker, was my favorite character in the book because she was such a different and fascinating person who we only find out bits and pieces about at a time.

After reading this book, I just had to see the movie. It was nice to see what the producers thought the characters would look like but there were so many details of the book that were missing that it was kind of disappointing. The one thing I did like about the movie was that it showed the country and scenes where the story was to have taken place. It's nice, while reading the second book, to have an idea of what the characters could look like.

There is a huge cast of characters and at times it was difficult to keep them all straight. I found myself referring back to the family tree that was included at the beginning. The book also mentioned a lot of cities and towns that were unfamiliar to me and it was a little difficult to keep track of them all because they were Swedish names. Looking some of them up on Google Earth helped to put them in context. One word of warning: the story is violent in many parts and people who find graphic details of that type of thing objectionable or upsetting would probably not find this book easy to read.

The writing was excellent and I was sorry to learn that Stieg Larsson died soon after signing a contract for this book and his two others. The world lost an amazing author.
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on December 1, 2011
Prior to starting this series, I had heard so much positive reaction to it, particularly about the first book, that my expectations were perhaps a bit too high. I found the first 75 or so pages rather slow, and on a few occasions I was forced to pause and look up Swedish terms, newspapers, and financial information. But I continued reading, desperate to discover what had everyone raving so much. By page 100 I was immersed, and quite enjoying the character development, particularly that of the main characters Blomkvist and Salander. From there the plot developed quickly, enthralling the reader in the mystery to be solved. The ending is a bit of surprise; looking back, I admit, I should have seen it coming, but I'm glad I didn't.

Larsson's books have been referred to as classic crime fiction, and while I agree that the story is clever, the author's greatest achievement here is in the characters themselves. With the hero Salander, we meet a woman unlike any other fictional character. The petite tattooed super-hacker is genius and possesses a tough girl strength, but underneath is a childlike vulnerability that makes her uniquely human. Blomkvist, much more the typical male, is well developed and complements Salander perfectly, though at times I found myself wanting to reach into the book and yell at him to stop being such a putz.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and has time to read a near-500 page thriller.
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