Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dragon Tattoo

I don't know how I stumbled across the list, but there it was on my computer and I glanced over it from top to bottom. I guess I was just absent-mindedly following links on CNN. The best selling authors in 2008 and 2009. One author, Stieg Larsson, caught my attention. He had written a series of books that had sold 27 million copies in a very short period of time. What was interesting was that the books were published after his untimely death at the age of 50. The series of books is referred to as The Millenium Trilogy. They fall into the class of mystery thrillers. Several of the comments on the book jacket used the term "addictive". I ordered the first book in the series to see what the big deal was about. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

My copy of the book arrived in the mail about four days after I placed my order. 644 pages. Four days later I had finished my reading. Wow, what a ride. Now I should say that I don't normally read books of this sort. All too often they seem formulatic and contrived. They are the equivalent of eating cotton candy when I should be gaining sustenance from a more hardy fare. However, this book intrigued me and held me and made me want to go back for more as I worked my way through a story about the history of the Vanger family from Sweden and their complicated and uneasy relationships. Several of the members of the family shared a sick passion that was slowly and cleverly uncovered by an investigative journalist and a young, punk/goth woman who had a talent for finding out the dirty secrets of people just to satisfy her own curiosity.

The story unfolds over the course of a year, when a retired CEO from a once powerful Swedish manufacturing company hires an investigative journalist who was sued for libel after publishing a story of crooked dealings of a powerful business man. Once his credibility took this major hit, he had to lay low for a while to let the pressure dissipate. His assignment was to write a biography of the Vanger family, but this was just a cover. His real purpose was to investigate the death of the cherished granddaughter of the retired CEO. He wanted someone to take one more look at the case before he died. She had disappeared 35 years ago under suspicious circumstances and the case is now stone cold.

Stieg Larsson weaves together a wonderfully crafted story and plot line and history. It is so hard to know who is telling the truth. Sometimes people are not who they seem to be. Sometimes they are. It all comes out in the end and sets the stage for the second book in the trilogy, The Girl who Played with Fire.