I have previously discussed my reluctance to read any book that has achieved widespread popular acclaim. I am a book snob, plain and simple. If the common folk like a book, then it must be beneath the intellectual giant that is me (I know, I am a little bit of an ass). This rule has worked to my benefit on several occasions, having protected me from the teenage titillation of Twilight and the harebrained poppycock of Harry Potter (I worked hard on that sentence). It has also very nearly done me a great disservice on multiple occasions. It was this snobbery that almost kept me from Cormac McCarthy (thanks to Daniel and Seth at Surf Waco for setting me straight). It was also this snobbery that almost kept me from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Despite watching and enjoying both the Swedish and American film versions of this novel, I was hesitant to pick it up. Thanks to my wife’s insistence, I finally did so.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is part crime novel and part onion. There are several plot lines layered together into an incredibly entertaining whole. The core plot revolves around the disappearance and suspected murder of teenager Harriet Vanger in the 1960’s. Harriet’s uncle, wealthy industrial Henrik Vanger, hires Mikael Blomkvist to look into her case in the hope of turning up new information before Henrik succumbs to his advanced age. With the help of talented but troubled researcher Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist uncovers a shocking chain of grisly murders that leads him to the truth about Harriet. There are several subplots that explain the psychology and backgrounds of both Blomkvist and Salander, creating sincere and believable characters. I won’t summarize in any greater detail because most of the universe has already read this book, and I don’t want to spoil it for those precious few who lag behind even me in jumping on this bandwagon.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo deserves every bit of the acclaim surrounding it. It is both well written and well translated. Although it is graphically violent and graphically sexual in parts, these sections seem neither gratuitous nor glorifying. Larsson’s plot draws the reader in so deeply that it is nearly impossible to put the book down once it is begun. I read the 644 page novel in a day and a half. Despite knowing the plot (thanks to the two movie versions), I was absolutely captivated. This is one case in which I happily acknowledge the error of my ways. If you have resisted this book out of a snobbishness akin to my own, give in to current of popular acclaim. You will not regret it.
The Current Count
28 Read, 72 To Go