Revisiting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
With a new installment in the Millennium series due soon, bookseller Rob Chilver goes back to where it all began.
For me, it all began with a chunky paperback with a bright red cover. I first heard about Stieg Larsson’s novel just after I became a bookseller, as customers who had read it talked about it with a burning passion. They told me that this was I book I must read so, drawn in by excellent word-of-mouth, its distinct title and an equally intriguing cover, I gave it a try.
Back then it was hard to imagine what was yet to come. Now it's fair to say that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has passed over into the mainstream, becoming a phenomenon that is seared into the public's consciousness. Three books, three films and a Hollywood remake have made it a recognisable and much-discussed series. Add to that an author seemingly cut down in his prime, sadly passing away back in 2004 and never seeing the success of his three books, only increases its mystique and reputation.
Revisiting it all these years later in preparation for the release of The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz, a continuation of the Millennium series, has been an enjoyable and
The book is named after Lisbeth Salander (at least it is in the UK - the title was changed from the generic and vague, yet still sinister Men Who Hate Women in Swedish). It's after around thirty pages that
An equally strong character but of a much different mould is the campaigning journalist Mikael Blomkvist. The book begins with the slow burning details of Blomkvist's court case, setting him up at a low point as he battles to save his reputation and Millennium, the magazine he co-founded. A prison sentence awaits him and from here we move on to the central mystery itself and the introduction of the Vanger family.
It is around the halfway point of the book when our two protagonists finally meet and the story takes off in a new direction. As Blomkvist himself points out, the plot centres on a classic ‘locked room mystery’ as they search for what happened to the young Harriet Vanger after an accident shuts off the Vanger family island from the rest of the world. She somehow vanishes, either taking her own life, murdered or simply disappearing. Where did she go and what happened to her? Lisbeth and Mikael begin to investigate and what we think is an intriguing ‘what-if?’
Alongside this, punctuated throughout the book are statistics detailing the violence and abuse against women in Sweden. Along with Lisbeth's
Returning to the book was great fun as I relived every twist and turn along the way. Some parts have dated, in particular, the technical parts relating to Lisbeth’s murky nature of work amongst the hacking community, but these can easily be ignored. What has not dated is the book’s considerable strengths. There remains a great hook of a story and a central character that is still as intriguing and as fresh as when she was first written.
Next week we'll revisit The Girl Who Played With Fire, where Lisbeth’s murky past returns.
The Girl in the Spider's Web: Continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series - Millennium Series 4 (Hardback)
“Without ever becoming pastiche, the book is a respectful and affectionate homage to the originals.” - The Guardian