Mikael Blomkvist is a 42-year old financial journalist recently accused of libel and facing three months in prison and some pretty hefty fines. After his trial, Mikael is approached by retired industrialist Henrik Vanger with an offer to write the Vanger family history and do a little extra research into the 1966 disappearance of his great niece Harriet. Henrik has been obsessed with Harriet's disappearance for the last 36 years and is convinced that someone in the family is behind her murder, despite the fact that the previous investigation has turned up no evidence to support that supposition. In exchange, Henrik offers to hand over some dirt on Hans-Erik Wennerström, the financier which Mikael is attempting to expose.
With help from some unlikely sources, including 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a genius hacker with Asperger's and a large assortment of tattoos and body piercings, they uncover some seriously sick shit that someone will go out of their way to keep hidden. And which puts Mikael right in the line of fire.
Though it starts off a bit slow, this book picked up speed about halfway through and got so that I couldn't put it down. I have to say this was definitely a multi-layered story with a lot going on and some serious undertones. For example, Lisbeth Salander looks and acts like some kind of anti-social street punk but she's actually extremely intelligent, has a near photographic memory, and is simply a product of all the shit she's been through. She's pretty much had to raise herself and up until recently, nobody has really taken the time or interest to help her acclimate. There's also the whole issue about violence against women which comes up several times in the course of the story, and again, the way Lisbeth deals with it, I'd say she's anything but a victim.
Because this was translated from the original Swedish text, there were a couple things here and there that bugged me a little. The author's habit of referring to characters by their last name instead of their first was one. Perhaps it's a European thing but I just couldn't wrap my head around a woman called Berger, or a young girl called Salander. (Which I kept wanting to read as Salamander. LOL) Also, some of the descriptions, especially pertaining to computer stuff, could be a bit tedious:
"He used the NotePad programme (www.ibrium.se), one of those full-value products that two men at the Royal Technical College had created and distributed as shareware for a pittance on the Internet."Or,
"The rucksack contained her white Apple iBook 600 with 25-gig hard drive and 420 megs of RAM, manufactured in January 2002 and equipped with a 14-inch screen."The above are just a couple of examples where the added details had absolutely no bearing on the rest of the story and seemed a bit out of place. I assume this was the way it came through in the translation, but I'm surprised all that superfluous detail wasn't edited out.
Those minor points aside, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, very soon.