Reviews for Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Booklist Reviews 2008 August #1
The first U.S. appearance of another major Swedish crime writer is cause for celebration but also disappointment: Larsson, an acclaimed journalist as well as the author of the award-winning Millenium trilogy, of which this is the first volume, died in 2004. The editor of a magazine called Expo, which was dedicated to fighting right-wing extremism, Larsson brings his journalistic background to bear in his first novel. It is the story of a crusading reporter, Mikail Blomkvist, who has been convicted of libel for his exposé of crooked financier Wennerstrom. Then another Swedish financier, a rival of Wennerstrom, wants to hire Blomkvist to solve the decades-old disappearance of his niece from the family's island compound in the north of Sweden. If Blomkvist works on the project for a year, his employer will deliver the goods on Wennerstrom. Blomkvist takes the job and soon finds himself trying to unlock the grisly multigenerational secrets in a hideously dysfunctional family's many closets. Helping  him dig through those closets is the novel's real star, the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, a ward of the state who happens to be Sweden's most formidable computer hacker and a fearless foe of women-hating men. Larsson has two great stories (and two star-worthy characters) here, and if he never quite brings them togetherâ€"the conclusion of the Wennerstrom campaign seems almost anticlimactic after  the action-filled finale on the islandâ€"the novel nevertheless offers compelling chunks of investigative journalism, high-tech sleuthing, and psychosexual drama. What a shame that we only have three books in which to watch the charismatic Lisbeth Salander take on the world! Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2010 June
Stieg Larsson's legacy

Knopf publisher and editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, who introduced the works of Stieg Larsson to American readers, talks about the phenomenal success of the series.

How did you first hear about the Millennium trilogy?

I heard about the books at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2007. At that time, they were already creating quite a stir in Europe. I bought American rights soon after returning to New York.

What was it about the books that made you want to acquire rights for Knopf?

I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in one sitting. I thought it was remarkable for both its suspense and its portrait of society. Lisbeth Salander, "the girl," is one of the most dynamic and original characters I've encountered in years. I believe we had only synopses of the second and third books, but one could tell from the ambition of Dragon Tattoo that the trilogy was going to be an impressive work in its entirety.

The publication of the trilogy was a unique situation--the author was dead, the books had to be translated from their original Swedish, and they were published at different times in different languages all around the world. What was it like working with such conditions?

It's certainly an unusual situation, but not unprecedented. We had a similar experience when we published Suite Française a few years ago. The author, Irène Nmirovsky, died during World War II, and her daughter had only just discovered and decided to publish the manuscript, which was in French. So the novel wasn't as contemporary as Stieg Larsson's, but it was another one of those rare works in translation--particularly without a living author--that found a wide audience in the United States and around the world. It's tragic to realize that these authors didn't get to experience the success of their own work, but it can also be reassuring to know that publishing their books may help their legacy to endure for generations. (Read our review of Suite Française)

Were you involved with re-titling the books for an English-speaking audience? (The first book's original title was Men Who Hate Women.)

The British editor, Christopher MacLehose, from whom we bought the books, and who commissioned the English translation, came up with the title. I wasn't involved in that process, but I knew we wanted the American edition to use this title rather than Men Who Hate Women. There was some concern that the original title might, in English, sound like a self-help book. Also, the title The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo emphasizes the character of "the girl," Salander, who in my opinion is one of the main strengths of the trilogy.

Why do you think the books became so successful here?

I think it was a combination of factors. We had a terrific series of jackets, the look of which has now become iconic. We did advance reader's editions, which went out to a wide group of fellow writers who were very supportive, [and] there was a large marketing campaign. But mainly it's the strength of the books themselves. I think they really touched a chord with American readers.

Is it true that Larsson left a partial manuscript for book four when he died?

I've also heard those rumors, but I don't have any concrete information about a fourth book. I understand that as long as Stieg Larsson's estate is in dispute, it probably won't be possible to get hold of the manuscript, if it even exists.


Read our reviews of all three books in the Millennium Trilogy

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 July #2
First U.S. publication for a deceased Swedish author (1954-2004); this first of his three novels, a bestseller in Europe, is a labored mystery.It's late 2002. Mikael Blomkvist, reputable Stockholm financial journalist, has just lost a libel case brought by a notoriously devious tycoon. He's looking at a short jail term and the ruin of his magazine, which he owns with his best friend and occasional lover, Erika Berger. The case has brought him to the attention of Henrik Vanger, octogenarian, retired industrialist and head of the vast Vanger clan. Henrik has had a report on him prepared by Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous Girl, a freaky private investigator. The 24-year-old Lisbeth is a brilliant sleuth, and no wonder: She's the best computer hacker in Sweden. Henrik hires Mikael to solve an old mystery, the disappearance of his great-niece Harriet, in 1966. Henrik is sure she was murdered; every year the putative killer tauntingly sends him a pressed flower on his birthday (Harriet's custom). He is equally sure one of the Vangers is the murderer. They're a nasty bunch, Nazis and ne'er-do-wells. There are three story lines here: The future of the magazine, Lisbeth's travails (she has a sexually abusive guardian) and, most important, the Harriet mystery. This means an inordinately long setup. Only at the halfway point is there a small tug of excitement as Mikael breaks the case and enlists Lisbeth's help. The horrors are legion: Rape, incest, torture and serial killings continuing into the present. Mikael is confronted by an excruciating journalistic dilemma, resolved far too swiftly as we return to the magazine and the effort to get the evil tycoon, a major miscalculation on Larsson's part. The tycoon's empire has nothing to do with the theme of violence against women which has linked Lisbeth's story to the Vanger case, and the last 50 pages are inevitably anticlimactic.Juicy melodrama obscured by the intricacies of problem-solving.First printing of 150,000 Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2008 May #1
Wealthy young Harriet Vanger disappeared 40 years ago, and Uncle Henrik always thought she was murdered. Now he's drafted a hotshot journalist and a tattooed hacker to investigate. An expert on right-wing extremists, Swedish author Larsson died in 2004. This international best seller arrives here with a 100,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews 2008 August #1

Ever since Knopf editor Sonny Mehta bought the U.S. rights last November, the prepublication buzz on this dark, moody crime thriller by a Swedish journalist has grown steadily. A best seller in Europe (it outsold the Bible in Denmark), this first entry in the "Millennium" trilogy finally lands in America. Is the hype justified? Yes. Despite a sometimes plodding translation and a few implausible details, this complex, multilayered tale, which combines an intricate financial thriller with an Agatha Christie-like locked-room mystery set on an island, grabs the reader from the first page. Convicted of libeling a prominent businessman and awaiting imprisonment, financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist agrees to industrialist Henrik Vanger's request to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of Vanger's 16-year-old niece, Harriet. In return, Vanger will help Blomkvist dig up dirt on the corrupt businessman. Assisting in Blomkvist's investigation is 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but enigmatic computer hacker. Punkish, tattooed, sullen, antisocial, and emotionally damaged, she is a compelling character, much like Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory, and this reviewer looks forward to learning more of her backstory in the next two books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and Castles in the Sky ). Sweden may be the land of blondes, Ikea, and the Midnight Sun, but Larsson, who died in 2004, brilliantly exposes its dark heart: sexual violence against women, a Nazi past, and corporate corruption. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/03.]--Wilda Williams, Library Journal

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Library Journal Reviews 2008 December #1
Larsson's gripping debut thriller about the decades-old disappearance of a teenage heiress exposes the darkness beneath Sweden's sunny blond veneer and introduces us to the memorable Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed, antisocial computer hacker. (LJ 8/08) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 July #2

Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women ), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption--at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy. 100,000 first printing. (Sept.)

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