The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

October 15, 2011 at 16:06 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Mystery, Thriller) (, , , )

5/10

This book is chiefly a murder mystery, and can only really cling to the label of “Thriller” by its fingertips. It is a very stylish, sensual, alternative-culture murder mystery, with a very awkward mixture of some sort of postmodern approximation of romance, but despite the constant hints that there is something greater and more deadly involved, this book is really about tracking down clues and crossing off suspects. It unfortunately fits into that ever-so-frustrating subgenre of mystery stories: mysteries where the reader is not given the information to solve the crime until the characters solve it.

It is difficult at first to understand why exactly this unprepossessing little novel caused such a stir upon its release. Whodunnits are a dime a dozen, and although the author manages to drag in Nazis, the mafia and the good-old “puzzle from the dusty pages of history”, it seems that this is simply a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, with neither staying power nor anything else unique about it.

“You’re not a person who encourages friendship…”

-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Strangely, the most interesting feature is Larsson’s seemingly-misplaced  and contextually bare warnings throughout the book about human trafficking and violence against women. This crusade does not only appear in the chapter headings, either; characters will all-but break the fourth wall and launch into diatribes, listing evidence and statistics exhaustively–and then return to their conversations. This is handled a little clumsily at first, but as Larsson begins to link it in with the main thrust of his story, it makes a little more sense. He is graphic and terrifying in quite a few of his examples, and there is plenty of material in this book that warrants skipping, but his one man crusade does gain altitude after a while, and turns a rather prosaic mystery-thriller into a thoughtful and provocative read.

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