I do a lot of reading. I love a good story, and I have found a fantastic series.
It is the Stieg Larsson trilogy, sometimes refereed to as “The Millennium-series”. The three books are “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest.”
I have read the first two of these novels, and I am completely enthralled. I can’t wait to get to the book store and pick up the third.
In these novels, Larsson creates suspense as the main characters strive to uncover crimes they find themselves involved in.
The main characters, though some may disagree, are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.
Salander is, according to a very accurate description on Wikipedia, “antisocial but extremely intelligent hacker and researcher, specialising in investigating people. She has a photographic memory.” She is portrayed as a punk-rock or Gothic type. She has a bi-sexual tendencies, and she has been wronged in the past by men and hates when men abuse women. This is why the book when first published was called “Men Who Hate Women.”
Blomkvist, again using Wikipedia’s great explanation, is he is a “journalist, publisher of Millennium magazine, and amateur sleuth. Early in his career, he was compared to Astrid Lindgren’s fictional boy detective Kalle Blomkvist (in the English translation, Bill Bergson), and the nickname stuck.” Blomkvist is a relentless journalist, and he stops at nothing to get to the truth. He is a middle-aged character who is a playboy of sorts. In neither of the two books does he go long without someone to accompany him to bed.
Now, there are several other important characters in these first two novels, but they pale in importance when compared to Salander and Blomkvist. In all actuality, Salander is the most important character. She is the one who carries the story from novel to novel. Without her, the trilogy wouldn’t exist.
Speaking of Salander, though she is portrayed as a closed-off, affectionate person, I think I have a crush on her. Her undeniable intelligence and ability to take care of herself in almost any situation, though she does need help from time to time, makes her attractive. Her looks, though described as a punk-rock freak, sound hot. I like piercings.
I’m in love with Lisbeth Salander. I think. At least the idea of her. I seems weird to say so, especially since she is a fictional character who would probably kill me if I ever made her angry, but now that it’s out in the open there’s no taking it back. Oh well. I’m OK with it. After all, I love these books too. Part of me, the journalist part, wishes I were Bloomkvist. I wish I owned my own magazine and got to solve crimes. That would be sweet.
In any event, I’m now going to briefly outline what transpires in the two novels. I don’t plan on giving away the endings, but I want to stress how suspenseful and fast-paced these novels are. They are fantastic, and you should read them.
‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’
Mikael Blomkvist is an investigative journalist and the publisher of Millennium magazine. He pays particular attention to the banking and financial industry. In one such investigative piece, he gets convicted of a bogus libel claim and is sentenced to jail time. He has to step down as publisher, and just when he thinks he will lose everything, he gets a strange job offer from Henrik Vanger, who is a former CEO of the family business — the Vanger Corporation.
Vanger hires Blomkvist to look into the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger, who vanished 40 years prior. At first Blomkvist feels the job is for nothing, but he soon gets pulled into the story and will stop at nothing to find out the truth, especially considering the Vanger family is full of unsavory characters who all seem to hate and mistrust each other.
During his work, Blomkvist’s magazine is in dire need of financial help, so Vanger buys into the company to keep it solvent.
Along the way Blomkvist needs help with some research, so Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode, suggests the same researcher that did a very in-depth background check on Blomkvist, unknown to him, when he was being considered for hire by Vanger.
That researcher is Lisbeth Salander.
The two work together closely to uncover the truth of Harriet Vanger, and as a sexual relationship and possible love develops between them, they find the answer as their own lives are put into jeopardy.
It is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book. I. Loved. It.
‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’
In the second installment of the story, most of the same characters are in play, and we begin to learn more about Salander and her past. She of course “came into some money” recently and spent some time traveling abroad. Blomkvist has stayed home and became a variable celebrity after he published his damning book about Wennerström and his corrupt practices.
While still manning Millennium magazine, Blomkvist is approached by a freelancer to do an expose about the sex trafficking business in Sweden. Since Blomkvist is no stranger to controversy and rather enjoys holding people, especially public officials, accountable, he takes the freelancer up on the offer.
Blomkvist hasn’t spoken to Salander for more than a year, but she’s been keeping tabs on him by hacking into his computer. When she sees the new bombshell he and the freelancer are working on, she takes a keen interest because she has been abused in the past and hates men who hate women.
Before Salander even gets too involved, the freelancer and his girlfriend, along with Salander’s despicable guardian Nils Bjurman, end up dead, and Salander quickly becomes the prime suspect in the murders.
Blomkvist tries to reach out to her to help her clear her name while he continually tries to track down the murder of the freelancer, whom he had considered a friend. He does so by going through the unfinished work the freelancer left and trying to track down any of the sex traffic customers who could be behind it.
One name continues to pop up: Zala.
Salander comes to the same conclusion as well, and she happens to know Zala personally.
Blomkvist, as he puts the pieces together, realizes that Salander is probably taking matters into her own hands, so he must race against the clock to try and find the person responsible for the murder of his friend while trying to save Salander from harm and imprisonment.
The ending leaves you hanging as you want to know what happens next. It is a gripping read that literally pulls you along and makes it difficult to put the book down.
I love these books. They are incredibly well written, and as an aspiring author, I hope I can someday write a novel even half as good.
Stieg Larsson is a very interesting person, at least from what I’ve read about him. He died of a heart attack in November of 2004. He had just turned in his manuscripts for the three novels: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest.”
Here is how www.StiegLarsson.com describes his life:
“Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. Starting in the late 1970’s, he combined his work as a graphic designer with holding lectures on right-wing extremism for the Scotland Yard. During the following years he became an expert on the subject and has held many lectures as well as written many novels on the subject. In 1995, when 8 persons were killed by neo-Nazis I Sweden, he was the main force behind the founding of the Expo-foundation, a group intended on exposing neo-Nazi activity in Sweden. From 1999 and on, he was appointed chief editor of the magazine Expo.
“During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat from right-wing violence. When a labor-union leader was murdered in his home by neo-Nazis in 1999, the police discovered photos of and information about the couple in the murderer’s apartment. So it was not without reason that the couple took precautionary measures. They were never seen together outside the house, they moved mirrors in the hall and they always kept the blinds down. Those are just a few examples. Stieg was an expert in the area, and wrote a book of instructions on how journalists should respond to threats for the Swedish Union of Journalists (‘Överleva Deadline’, 2000).
“The situation created a contrast between Stieg’s work at Expo and his night-time novel writing. He regarded his writing of detective novels as relaxing. Keeping track of loose ends, characters and made up conspiracies posedno problem since it was, after all, fiction and no one would threaten either Eva or himself because of it.”
It is truly sad that Larsson died. These first two books were so good, and the third promises to be great as well. Just think what he could have done had his career as an author lasted longer.
All three of the books have been made into movies. Of course, they are in Larsson’s native language of Swedish, so if you buy them (they are available at Amazon.com), you will have to read the subtitles. I’m so enthralled with this story, I’m actually considering buying them and suffering through with just the subtitles.
However, it seems there is going to be an English version produced in the near future, so if I manage to hold out on buying the Swedish films, I will be at the opening of the English versions the first night.
Again, I love these books. And I think I love Lisbeth Salander. I wonder if I’d even have a chance with her . . . too bad she’s not real . . .