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