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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of the trilogy by Swedish writer, Steig Larsson. The trilogy was published posthumously in 2005 and went on to become an international rage. The various references to murder, suicide and casual sex have only added to its popularity across the globe. Not so surprisingly enough, the novel managed to win awards like the Best Nordic Crime Novel Award as well.

Coming back to the novel, the plot starts with the famous old industrialist, Henrik Vanger hiring the journalist, Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his great niece, Harriet. Harriet had mysteriously disappeared in 1966 from an island owned by the Vanger family. It’s a long-unsolved mystery in itself and Vanger has all his doubts that someone has killed his niece and it has to be a family member. Untill recently, Mikael has been in a spot himself after losing a libel case against another billionaire industrialist. After incurring quite some fines and deferring jail-time, he is ready to take up this new project of the investigation of the missing niece. He requests for an assistant who can help him with the investigation and voila, enter Lisbeth Salander. Salander happens to be the same girl who was hired by Vanger to do a background check on Mikael before Vanger employed him to run this investigation. She is carefully portrayed as this 24-year old hacker with a photographic memory and a bold dodger of sexual assault attempts by her so-called-legal guardian. As the story progresses, Salander and Mikael turn into lovers. But Mikael never loses track of the bigger picture. He maintains distance and works together to find out the missing Harriet.

A lot of convoluted clues later, both of them realize they are on the search for a serial killer. As the investigation gains pace, the readers may take a little bit of a time to settle down with the introduction of more and more characters. All of this however seems to make a connection with the multiple deaths from the 1950s. Gradually, they are engulfed into the case and have now put their lives at serious risk. Many ups and downs they face but still manage to solve the case for Vanger. Harriet was not murdered. She escaped; escaped from the continual sexual assault that she faced from her own family members. This entire incident in itself contributes to focusing more on the theme of how men treat women in Sweden. Anyway, all’s well that ends well. Mikael manages to complete his revenge story with the almost-forgotten-by-now industrialist with quite some help from Vanger and Salander.

Weaved into this main plot is the sub-plot of Mikael’s love-life. He is a divorced dad who loves his daughter to death and dates two women at the same time without having an emotional connect with either. Inspite of the varied intricacies of the character, Mikael fails to make an impact on the reader’s mind as one of the central characters in the novel. The plot, the novel, it all belongs to Lisbeth Salander. She is the girl with the dragon tattoo.

The novel is a wonderful example of passionate and striking plot that highlights quite some semblances with the Swedish life. The characters could have been sketched out to a tad bit more detail but they do strike a chord. All in all, the first in this trilogy does inspire you to look forward to the other two.

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