The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Abba of Whodunits

As all but the schmucks know, Sweden in the popular thinking is associated with three things: music group Abba, the arms manufacturer Bofors for its involvement in an Indian bribery scandal and the biting cold weather.

But in the 21st century, Sweden has another claim to fame – the late novelist/journalist Stieg Larsson and his Millennium novels.

Since the publication of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire (the first two volumes in Millennium trilogy), Stieg Larsson has turned into a phenomenon in Sweden and even beyond.

Life, however, deals cruel blows to some people.

A short while before the publication of his first novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (part of a trilogy), Larsson died of a heart attack in 2005 (another author who died before his first book was published was John Kennedy Toole, author of Confederacy of Dunces).

Such is life.

Originally published in Swedish as Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women), the English translation The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out in September 2008 in the U.S. and is now starting to show up in U.S. libraries.

Set in Sweden, the 441-page is a crime thriller, the likes of which we haven’t read in a long time.

Our Take
Folks, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a riveting, unputdownable book.

The Girl with Dragon Tattoo

A disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, a 82-year-old former CEO of the Vanger Group of companies to investigate the disappearance of his grand-niece Harriet Vanger 44 years earlier.

Before he reaches his maker, Henrik wants to make another attempt at resolving the disappearance of his beloved grand-niece.

The assignment the old man gives Blomkvist is startling in its mandate:

I want you to find out who in the family murdered Harriet, and who since then has spent almost forty years trying to drive me insane.

Shocked? Don’t be. Like a great many wealthy families, the Vanger family too is mostly a dysfunctional group.

Joining Blomkvist in what he considers an impossible pursuit of solving a 44-year-old mystery is a 24-year-old girl Lisbeth Salander, a social misfit and ace hacker.

Against all odds and against the resistance from the Vanger family members, who oppose an outsider digging into the family’s affairs, Blomkvist and Salander work doggedly to uncover the enduring mystery of Harriet’s disappearance.

In the process, some dark secrets in the family’s past are exposed and other strange skeletons come tumbling out.

By the way, it should come as no surprise to you that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been turned into a Swedish feature film Män Som Hatar Kvinnor directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

How much longer do you think before Hollywood makes its own version.

The folks at Wiki report that the Swedish version of the book picked up the Glass Key Award in 2006 for best crime novel of the year and two years later, the Boeke Prize.

If you live in the U.S., your local library should carry The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

11 Responses to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Abba of Whodunits"

  1. scout   August 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Sounds interesting. I read ‘The Road’ by Cormac Mccarthy. It was good but I liked ‘No Country’ better. Responds:

    1. We haven’t read anything by Cormac McCarthy but we’ve watched No Country for Old Men based on his book.

    Plan to start with Road…after all it did win the Pulitzer. Will pick it up shortly.

    2. Just reserved the second vol in the Larsson trilogy The Girl Who Played with Fire (Jan 2009) at our library.

    Surely, your local library should have them too.

    If you believe this story in the Guardian newspaper, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are said to be keen on playing Blomkvist in the Hollywood version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

    And many directors including Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese are reportedly keen on making the movie.

    Here’s the Wiki profile of Stieg Larsson.

  2. scout   August 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    am gonna get it from Amazon.
    If i like the book, i would never want George Clooney or Brad Pitt to playing the central character.
    Btw, Pitt & Depp in the same sentence reminded of smtg..

    here’s smtg special just for you:
    =D Responds:


  3. scout   August 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    no, is not.
    is God’s truth. Responds:

    To compare Tom Cruise to these buffoons boggles the mind…

  4. scout   August 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Tom Cruise lost all his charm about 6 years ago.

    And i don’t get what the big deal is about Depp, he’s like one of those overgrown goth kids.
    Trying to project some pseudo persona.

    They could never compare to Shah Rukh Khan. Responds:

    SRK was over the hill at the end of the last millennium.

  5. scout   August 6, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    nope, he wasn’t.
    i’ll let you know how ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ was.
    Don’t reply. Responds:

    You ought to be sentenced to hard labor in one of the Siberian penal camps for mentioning SRK and Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise et al in the same breath.

  6. scout   August 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    i totally agree.
    i don’t know what possessed me to take the names of those novices, while talking of the King. Responds:

    The real King is here.

  7. Albert Camus   August 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I was thinking that the King of Pop was bigger than the The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. No? Responds:

    Elvis in his day was not merely a phenomenon, he marked a break with the past. A kind of cultural shift.

    MJ was a phenomenon too but he didn’t represent any kind of cultural shift or break with the earlier years. He was merely good.

    Beatles are the only comparison to Elvis.

  8. Aswin_Kini   August 7, 2009 at 9:39 am

    IN reference to Albert Camus’s comment and SI’s reply to it: Comparing the King of Pop with the King of Rock’n’Roll doesn’t make sense. As their titles suggest, they both were experts in their own trades and influenced the industry significantly.
    However, due to my own personal bias, I would rate Michael Jackson (MJ) higher than Elvis due to the following reasons:
    1) He became the lead singer of his band at the age of 5 and released more than 5 hit albums
    2) His first album as a solo professional, OFF THE WALL, was a critically and commercially acclaimed hit. At the young age of 21, he started becoming famous, yet unacclaimed.
    3) He changed the face of the then dying “MUSIC INDUSTRY” by his album THRILLER. Officially still the largest selling album by any means (40+ million copies during its time, 104 million as of today)
    4) Thriller changed the way albums were marketed. His compositions and the way in which he visualized his songs were alarmingly different by even today’s standards.
    5) Holds the Guiness records for the highest selling professional and the one with the longest Music Video (GHOSTS)
    6) Supposedly donated 300 million to Charity, a huge amount by any means.
    7) Most of his songs were critically acclaimed hits and changed the way music was made.

    Elvis was a huge phenomenon, but by no means was he a worldwide hit. Michael Jackson transcended borders. People may disagree with me, but a person loved across nations for his music will be in anyday bigger than ELVIS, a great artist. Responds:

    1. Interesting points but suum cuique.

    2. It’s hard to compare figures across time because so many other external, influencing variables change.

    For instance, you say Elvis was a huge phenomenon, but by no means was he a worldwide hit.

    To us, methodologically speaking, it doesn’t sound right to claim MJ was more popular worldwide than The King.

    You see in the 1950s or even 1960s, the world was not as integrated as it is now.

    Technology was not as advanced, there were no music cassettes, CDs or DVDs, our former veep Al Gore had yet to invent the Internet so there were no downloads, basically music was not as ‘portable’ in the 1950s and 1960s as it has been over the last 30 years.

    Today every Kini, Mudaliar, Chettiar, Vanniar, Rao, Naidu, Gowda et al has access to a music player, radio…not so in the 1950s or 60s (the Elvis years).

    Plus mass media became instantly accessible worldwide in the 1980s and beyond, and the influence of American entertainers expanded worldwide adding to MJ’s popularity.

    MJ sleeping with young boys on the same bed became instant fodder for gossip worldwide adding to his notoriety…how many in India in the 1960s or 1970s knew that Elvis was popping pills.

    But one thing is certain – the path for a Black Man to the top of the act is way, way harder in America even today than for a White Man. More so, in the 1970s and 1980s, the years when MJ rose to the top.

  9. scout   August 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    no, he not
    he here:

  10. Aswin_Kini   August 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Yep, I know you would bring the point of internet during Elvis’s days.

    To be frank, I never heard an Elvis song, don’t think I will hear much either.I liked MJ because he was a man way ahead of his times, the way he thought about his albums, the way he presented them, the way he wanted to express his emotions in form of songs.
    1) Billie Jean was about the real-life incident where an insane girl wrote letters to MJ that she was married to him and had two kids. It drove MJ so crazy that he wrote a song on this and know what, it became so famous and put MJ on the top.

    2) BAD: The I’m bad song is also based on the real life story of a youngster who went to his neighbourhood to meet his old pals and was murdered because he just wasn’t one of them anymore.

    3) GHOSTS and They don’t care about us were seriously aimed at the constant paparrazzi attention around him.

    Of course, MJ was rumoured to be gay, paedophile, and what not, but that doesn’t have anything to do with his music. As an artist, he ranks as one among the very best of all time. Responds:

    True, MJ does rank among the best.

  11. Albert Camus   August 7, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    BTW, Stefan Bengt Edberg, Mats Wilander come to my mind first..

    Björn Borg & ABBA were in the same era, I guess.. just a little before my time. I have listened to Roxette and Ace of Base more than ABBA. Responds:

    Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, ice-cool Borg et al were all famous in their time. But their era has passed.

    Also, many are fleetingly famous (Remember Andy Warhol’s famous 1968 statement: In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes) but very few lastingly famous.

    We believe that only with writers and rulers is lasting fame assured. Does any one remember any of the great athletes of Herodotus’ era.

    For that reason (as well as his premature death) Stieg Larsson will outshine the Edbergs, Wilanders et al. If, as reported, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is made into a Hollywood movie Larsson’s reputation can only expand.

    BTW, we just returned from the Walden book-store with a copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second volume in Larsson’s trilogy.

    The book has just been published in the U.S. Since our position was 59 at our library, we got impatient and purchased the book.

    The Girl Who Played with Fire has already received high praise from reviewers in the UK. Both the Sunday Times and Observer declare that it’s even better than the first book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

You must be logged in to post a comment Login