The Millennium Trilogy has been something of a publishing phenomenon since its inception. I doubt that when Stieg Larsson was writing the three manuscripts composed in the language of Swedish (“Män som hatar kvinnor” , “Flicken som lekte med elden” and “Luftslottet som sprängdes”), he had a single clue that years later, they’d be published in English, selling over 65 million worldwide and made into a Hollywood movie. Unfortunately, his untimely death took him for his legacy and left the printing press the unorthodox progress of clipping and drafting through his knotted pieces of work that he had strung together in his spare time. Naturally, as the books reached the eyes of the Swedish public, it immediately created a domino effect of awards and extraordinary record sales. It is quite apparent, even by reading through the inexact translation of the trilogy, of just how exactly it became so famed.
There is a special allure to Larsson’s natural writing ability and thorough journalistic approach that not many other authors are capable of. His extensive work on the battleground which is modern journalism gives The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo a suave readability, so much so that peers like Frederick Forsyth simply pale in comparison. When you first crack open the spine of it and delve into the opening chapters, you are drawn to its sentences like a turnip made out of metal to a magnet. Words like “compelling” and “composed” and “absorbing” come to mind. It’s a sprawling addiction that traps you for the hours you toss overboard just for it. And by the time you find its 5am, and you’re at the doorstep of the last page, and it feels like your eyes are going to smack themselves with mouldy lemon peel- you will need to buy the next book. It really is one of those devils that as soon as you put down, you just want to pick it up again. Of course there is no getting away from the fact that it isn’t written beautifully and reading it is sometimes is like reading a draft of a military battle report, but that’s part of its magic. The certain subtleties, like the underlying personality of each character in dialogue or Larsson’s grasp of the locality and corporate media makes the novel even more distinctive. The plot is equally bittersweet; with each character brings a certain effect that holds a clutch in the plot. It plays by the cards- a typical murder plot with a protagonist and heroine uncovering hidden details in a rather valiant manner. It carries itself rather well, twisting and turning through benign intricacies and inquisitive dialogue. Most people probably don’t catch Stieg’s influences, especially in characters being run-offs of old Swedish TV shows (see: Pippi Longstocking, Kalle Blomkvist) but they are there, all part of his kitsch portrait of contemporary Sweden that is so avidly painted. It’s hard for translations to carry off these small conventional details of Sweden, but to the eye of an untrained reader it’s no big deal.
On the whole, it is a delightful read, somewhat more enjoyable than most crime fiction knockoffs where the author’s name is bigger than the book title. It is a masterfully made in terms of plotting and depth, as with its successors, where with every chapter ending is a new meltdown of suspense. It can be said that the only reason why it stands at the forefront of the book market today is because of its quaint readability and discernable enjoyment factor for the masses, but it is no doubt a very researched, multifaceted book. Strongly Recommended.