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Stieg Larsson: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Since its release in 2005, the first book of the Millennium Trilogy has been a bestseller wherever it is shelved, and it continues to gain fans left and right across the world. This is partly due to the enigmatic characters in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and also due to the gripping mystery element to the story.
This is not merely a novel; it also reads as a journalistic exposé of corporate corruption and violence against women. Author Stieg Larsson is a Swedish activist and journalist who passed away shortly after submitting the third and last book of the series. Sadly, he never lived to see the worldwide popularity of his novels. His long journalistic career leaves an obvious imprint on the plot.
The foundations of a true crime thriller seem to be in place in the long introduction of the characters and their backgrounds, with all the necessary ingredients: a journalist turned investigator; a wealthy industrialist with a 40-year-old unsolved mystery; a rebellious 24-year-old researcher; dark family secrets and a missing body.
Mikael Blomkvist is a financial journalist whose professional credibility is on the line after losing a libel case against a corrupt and very powerful entrepreneur in court. He receives a prison sentence, and soon after gets a new job offer to uncover an old mystery on a small island owned by the Vagner family.
Young Harriet disappeared years ago and her body was never found. Her uncle Henrik never stopped looking for her, even as the rest of the family has long moved on and his obsession with the case has become a mockery.
Blomkvist takes on the challenge and reopens the investigation into Harriet’s disappearance, which Henrik believes was a murder.
Slowly we are introduced to the girl with the dragoon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, the flat-chested researcher/hacker with serious social defaults. Salander is a carefully written character with a more complex psychology than Blomkvist, who seems at times too light to grasp. The two main characters are united halfway through the book and the story picks up, forming a gripping middle part to the novel. However, the revealing of the mystery feels abrupt and drags on to a weak ending.
This crime novel proves to be little more than a closed room mystery of whodunit, although at times it borders on something beyond and a bit larger than its genre limitation. Statistics at the beginning of each part of the novel add creditability and believability to all the sadist horrors that takes place. As millions of fans around the world will testify, this is an entertaining read indeed.
A simple online search would give you a chronological account of the Egyptian revolution; accurate dates, death tolls and perhaps even the names of the martyrs. But it will not tell you how it made the Egyptian people feel. Statistics can't describe what the families of the martyrs went through and it cannot accurately express the weight placed on the hearts of millions of Egyptians during this time.
Soueif doesn't ignore the violence perpetrated by the regime against protestors; she also mentions those who have lost their lives. She has kept in mind that by the time readers received her book a lot would have changed, so she frequently refers to the fact that we – her readers – would know more about the current situation than she did while writing it.
As she walks down every street, she supplements her story with memories and anecdotes from her childhood and adolescence, adding an emotional and personal dimension to her book and making it easy for readers to imagine why she is still attached to Cairo despite her long years in London.
The book is a refreshing spin on a now-over-a-year-old revolution. It brings hope. Soueif's sharp senses have led her to assume that by the time the book hits bookshelves, hope would still be the number one motivation and that's how she writes; invoking hope and persistence in the hearts of her readers.
Detective Bosch has a lot going on in his personal front as well; his fifteen-year-old daughter who is way too mature for her age and wants to grow up to be a police officer is his main support system at home, and a budding romance between Bosch and a social worker adds a tinge of romance to Bosch's life.
The novel is left open-ended, in a way that allows the characters to seem more real as if their lives will continue beyond the pages of the novel.