After putting down the telephone the eighty-two-year-old birthday boy sat for a long time looking at the pretty but meaningless flower whose name he did not yet know. Then he looked up at the wall above his desk. There hung forty-three pressed flowers in their frames. Four rows of ten, and one at the bottom with four. In the top row one was missing from the ninth slot. Desert Snow would be number forty-four. [excerpt from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Reg Keeland, Translator)
Crime Fiction; 644 pgs
Synopsis from the publisher:
A murder mystery, family saga, love story, and a tale of financial intrigue wrapped into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.One of the most talked about books of the last two years, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was on my list of must read books this year. When the book was making the rounds at my office, I decided to take time out to read it. I admit to being skeptical. All the hype and then reading a few dissenting opinions planted a seed of doubt in my mind. I should have known better. I love a good mystery thriller, and in the end I was pleasantly surprised. I went into the novel not really knowing what it was about, only having heard about the two main characters and the violent rape scene. The rape scene wasn't nearly as graphic as I had been led to believe, although, as with any scene like that, it's hard not to be impacted by it. The violence and the victimization were very disturbing to say the least.
Harriet Vanger, scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pieced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
As for Lisbeth and Mikael . . . You can count me among those who are quite taken with them. Stieg Larsson spends quite a bit of time developing his characters and it was impossible not to grow attached to them. Both are extremely flawed but have a strong sense of justice, even if of their own variety. Lisbeth is such a strong female character and yet also very vulnerable. She struck me as a woman I would not want to mess with and yet also as one I wished I could protect. It makes for an interesting dichotomy. Mikael was a bit more of a playboy but he was always diligent and aware.
I especially liked the depth of the mystery, the way it unfolded. Stieg Larsson had a penchant for detail and left hardly a stone unturned. It fit well with the attention to detail his characters gave their work. I found this novel to be intelligent, suspenseful and entertaining.
Of course, I couldn't leave it with just reading the book. I had to watch the movie too. I expected great things after hearing so many positive reviews, and I was not disappointed. Noomi Rapace was perfect in the role as Lisbeth. She looked just as I imagined her and played the character with such strength and vulnerability that I felt as if I was reading the book again. Michael Nyquist as journalist Mikael Blomkvist also did a good job.
The violent scenes in the movie were much more dramatic than I had imagined them in my head as I read the novel. I felt the same intense anger and heartache in both, however.
The book and movie are not exactly the same, although they run along a very similar course. There were some changes I was glad to see, while others I could have done without. Isn't that always the way though? More of Lisbeth's back story is revealed in the movie than it was in the book, although it didn't come as a surprise. I wonder if perhaps that bit of information is in the second book (which I haven't yet read). Regardless, the movie was very well done. The proper mood and tone were captured and the Swedish landscape was breathtaking.
I chose to watch the movie in subtitles, but for those who have a problem with reading script while watching a movie, there is also a dubbed version on the DVD. I admit to being a little leery of the American movie version that is in the planning stages. I am perfectly content with the Swedish version and am not sure I trust Hollywood to do the book justice.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original title: Men Who Hate Women) (Foreign, Mystery, Thriller - 2009; rated R; directed by Niels Arden Oplev; screenplay written by Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg; novel written by Stieg Larsson)
Rating for both book and movie:
Source: Although I have my own copy of the book which I bought myself, the copy I read was actually borrowed from a coworker. The movie is one I purchased for my own viewing.