I had low expectations for this book. Back in 2009 I had attempted to read it and I was so underwhelmed after 100 pages that I put it down and moved along to something else. Last week when I was searching for a book to read, I felt like I should give Lisbeth and Blomkvist a second chance.
I know that most everyone has read this book and or the entire trilogy, so they are likely familiar with the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and ward of the state Lisbeth Salander. But if you haven't read the book, here is the dime store re-cap. Blomkvist, a noted financial journalist, prints a story that it turns out he cannot prove. He gets taken to court and loses a libel case and gets sentenced to jail. Meanwhile the Vanger clan has a mystery of their own that no one has been able to solve. Henrik Vanger offers Blomkvist a job to solve the mystery while offering Blomkvist the opportunity to lay low and to stay of the out of the public eye.
The mystery goes farther and farther down the rabbit hole and Blomkvist requests the assistance of the slightly scary, anti-social Lisbeth Salander to ferret out facts regarding the Vanger family (a pretty mean and scary cast of characters to say the least). The story turns up some very nasty information. I was shocked by some of what I had read. I have also learned that the original Swedish title of this book is "Men Who Hate Women" - there were some passages and even chapters of this book that lived up to that original title in a very nerve-wracking way.
The story is at times engrossing and infuriating. It was a very heavy book with only moments of lightness, but it was a great read. The characters were all really well-developed and I didn't guess "whodunit" until I was pretty deep into the book, but I still figured it out before it was revealed. I also loved that the book didn't end with the conclusion of the mystery - there was some unfinished business that needed to be completed. I like that loose ends were tied up.
I have not seen the Swedish version of the film and I am not particularly looking forward to the American version either (although Daniel Craig is an appealing draw) but this story is certainly compelling enough to make me consider seeing one or both films. I will check out the second book in the series but it will be sometime before I get to it. I will pick it up when I need to read a book by an author whose last name starts with "L".