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Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

gwtdtyellowThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Book 1 of 3, called “The Millenium Trilogy,” written by Stieg Larsson (deceased).

You can find a story synopsis at the wikipedia entry.  Please see it for a synopsis.   This post concentrates on my experience with the book and its themes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was translated from its original Swedish into English by Reg Keeland. Before I get into the review of the book, I feel I must mention the controversy that surrounds the English translation of the novel. The translator Reg Keeland was apparently so aghast with the English editor’s after work that he insisted that the credit of translation be given to a pen name; he was so disgusted with the final output that he wanted no part of it. He especially seemed annoyed with the change in title.  The original Swedish was either “The Man Who Hated Women” or “Men Who Hated Women.”

I consider myself a pretty typical American reader, and I have to say, I’d have never, ever picked up a book with that kind of title. “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” plays to our American sense of intrigue, and it does refer to a trait of one of the main characters. I have more issue with one version of the cover image.

The hair should be black and spiky and the skin should be pale.

The hair should be black and spiky and the skin should be pale.

The hair and skin color of the woman in the photograph don’t remotely match the description of said “girl” (a woman of about 25 years old). [I have a whole other issue with calling women over age 18 “girl” but I’ll mention that in a bit.]

I haven’t found any interviews with Mr. Keeland to know exactly what his complaints are, but I found the book to flow well regardless. I was never stopped abruptly by unfamiliar cultural nuances or odd dialogue. Knowing that Mr. Keeland was severely disappointed with the final English translation makes me curious what I missed. I’d love to know how this excellent book could be better.

Finding out the original title whilst in the throes of the plot was a strange experience. Before knowing the original title, I really had no idea where the plot was going. Once I had “Men Who Hated Women” in my head, I had different suspicions on where the events were leading. I almost wish I didn’t know, because the shock of the final battles would be even more startling. Then again, I’m not too sure I could’ve stomached it without the forewarning.

If it weren’t for the buzz and the interesting title, I’d have avoided this book. I’m not much of a crime thriller reader. I read all 4 Dan Brown books and enjoyed them, but I don’t search out crime novelists. When I heard rumblings about Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I didn’t catch that the book was in the crime thriller genre. It sounded interesting, so I picked it up from the library.

The book is massive: 465 pages. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it in the small amount of time I had it on loan from the library; it’s a new book and it had limited release time. I turned to the audio version. By listening to the book on CD, I could fit in some “reading” time while I was running, cooking or cleaning. When I could, I’d pick up the story in the print version right where the audio book left off.

It took weeks and a few different tries to finally get a hold of the UNabridged version of the audio performance of the book. For some reason, the library records have the abridged version and unabridged version under identical records. Other people had requested the print book, so I had to let it go for a while before I could get it back. I’d returned and then signed out the print version again while I waited for the unabridged copy of the audio book to show up.

When I did get the print book back, I was even more eager to continue on with the story. The first few chapters set up the characters so beautifully that I was haunted. Like an “earworm,” an incomplete song that repeats in your head, the characters and scenes would come back to haunt me. The only way to solve an earworm, psychologists say, is to look up the lyrics of the song and sing them through, from beginning to end. It’s thought that earworms occur because your brain is trying to resolve the discrepancy in the lyrics. Solve the discrepancy and the lingering haunt of a refrain disappears. That’s the theory, anyway.

The characters kept coming back to me. I only got to read the first few chapters of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, but it gave me enough of a grasp on the scene and the feel of it that I was irrevocably hooked. It was the scratch I had to itch, the earworm I had to sing.

Once I was set up with both the print and audio versions, I couldn’t put the story down. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The red herrings are in the details. These details you don’t miss because your state of awareness is raised to breaking heights, just like in any great detective story. “Oh no!” you think (for example) “the spy will see the imprint of the written note. How could our hero be so stupid!” It’s great moments like this that make an all encompassing adventure.

The themes are not for the feint of heart. Violence against women is pervasive, and the “girl” Lisbeth Salander, has experienced every kind of said violence in her short life. You can’t imagine how horrid the violence in the book gets. But that being said, most violence isn’t explained in detail, and there are only two or three scenes that are tough to read and even tougher to erase from your mind. As I said, I’m not a crime reader, so my sensibilities are usually not that resistant; I mostly disregard without hesitation books that grow too violent, instead finding the resolution to the plot online.

Perhaps it was listening to it on CD that got me through the very rough parts, but mostly, it’s readable without too much pain. If you are a wimp like me, go for the audio performance. The actor, Simon Vance, was excellent and it is much easier than reading through the nasty bits.

As a woman, though, some of the scenes of violence and everyday realities were all too familiar. I sometimes feel that men (white men especially) can’t understand what it feels like to be a member of a widely disregarded, hated, belittled (we aren’t “girls”) and beaten group. You always have to wonder if you earn the same salary as your male counterparts, if you lost out on the promotion because of your sex, if you will be safe going places on your own. The main character Lisbeth Salander, the tattooed chick, is one of my favorites, because although she is a victim of this violence, she is not helpless. Her methods are –controversial– but her sense of justice is keen and in tact. Unfortunately, Lisbeth has characteristics that would put her in the male category well before being grouped with the feminine chicks. I’m not sure if the author was trying to tell me to be more like a man if I want to protect myself and my sisters. But as a woman who feels like the balance of justice is often weighed against her group, watching Lisbeth Salander handle situations in her unique way was utterly satisfying.

Another theme in the book is the ultimate hatred, Naziism. I was surprised to learn about the Nazi activity in Sweden before, during and after World World II. I have to admit I wasn’t the most attentive world history student, but this just wasn’t in the curricula. The back flap says this about the author:

Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was editor in chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on the antidemocratic right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations.

Reading this, and then reading the book, lead me to believe that there may still be hidden Nazi leanings in the business world of Sweden. I obviously need to do more research on this. Knowing the author’s background, I think it was ultimately his aim to pique our curiosity about this very real racism in our global midst, and this reader surely feels that her eyes are more open than they were before. And isn’t that why we read? I love being whisked away to another place and time by great storytelling, but at the end of the day, I want to feel like I’ve learned something. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo delivers on all fronts.

Have you read it? Tell me what you thought of the book in the comments.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • sawinkler 6 April 2009, 4:43 pm

    I read this as a hardcover when it came out, at the recommendation of some in my Goodreads group. I didn’t like it, but mostly for “literary” reasons. I felt like the pacing was too slow for the first half of the book. Once “the big break” happened, the mystery unraveled at a good clip and was pretty interesting, though it borrowed heavily from every occult thriller movie that I’ve seen (Angel Heart, Fallen, even Golden Child).

    Another problem I had was that the issue of Swedish Nazism set up in the book never actually came into play, despite the author presenting that as a fairly strong family trait. Tying the crime into that aspect of family and Swedish history would have actually made the novel more original and interesting.

    The thing that left me ultimately unfulfilled with the story was that the main character, Mikael, did not need to be (in a literary sense) the one who solved this mystery. It was not his character’s destiny. His involvement with this case did not change him (he’s still a happy-go-lucky playboy out to keep the financial world honest), nor did it (directly) solve the initial conflict he faced at the beginning of the novel. So, with no character nor conflict advancement tied in to his involvement, there was no sense of having taken a complete journey. The author could have cut out the first and last thirds of this novel and the same result would have been achieved.

    I thought Lisbeth (the “girl with the dragon tattoo”) HAD to be part of this case, given her history. Mikael did not.

    Maybe I’m missing something; maybe I’m just not a mystery guy. But this just wasn’t all there, for me.

    I’m sure the movie will make a mint.

    • PurpleCar 6 April 2009, 8:45 pm

      These comments contain SPOILERS. SPOILER ALERT:


      Thanks for commenting. I’d say you’re mostly right on all counts.

      The pacing was indeed slow in the beginning of the book, but I was sufficiently interested, especially in Lisbeth Salander, to keep reading. I’m not too familiar with occult thriller movies myself so I can’t say the plot seemed tired to me. Lisbeth Salander, believe it or not, seemed a bit tired. She was more violent than most of her “odd girl with hidden superpowers” counterparts. She reminded me of Y.T. in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, or Angelina Jolie’s character Kate Libby in the movie Hackers. There are dozens more. So many that it really is a recognized type.

      Still, I love that type of character, and Lisbeth definitely is gutsier (or stupider) than most. So she kept it going for me. The Swedish Nazis didn’t play as much of a role in the book that I expected, but I’m actually a bit happy about that. Do you think that the cultural legacy they left isn’t enough? I thought it was tied in, with the victims all probably being Jewish… I see what you mean though, a direct tie might be helpful. They never said that Harald was a mass murderer, or did I miss that? Gottfried was sick but we really don’t know how he got that way. We had to guess it was the Nazi Harald, his father.

      I think Larsson had Mikael come to the end of the mystery to give Mikael a chance to redeem himself. Not redeem himself with the whole Wennestrom affair, but redeem himself from being known as Kalle Blomkvist, after he stumbled upon the band of bank robbers in his youth. Hardly a discovery to be known for, you know? But you’re right about the happy-go-lucky playboy thing. Did you get the message, like I did, at the end of the book that the original title could be applied to him too? Or do you think he just really likes Berger, maybe even loves her, and he just plays around because he can’t have her?

      I was heartbroken for Lisbeth at the end. I could just see Mikael through her eyes. He just seemed like a real jerk. Mikael was incapable of forming any real connection with a woman, and she was again the brunt of men’s disregard for women. Keeping a hold on Berger, sleeping around, and totally ignoring Lisbeth’s feelings because it was convenient for him to do so. Mikael is not a big respecter of women himself. So yes, there was no complete journey on his part, but this seems to be what Larsson had in mind.

      The movie will make a mint, if they do it right. I have a feeling that it could very quickly get like Se7en (the movie with Brad Pitt which was sick and stupid).

      I’d love to hear about what you thought about Mikael’s attitude toward women.



      • sawinkler 7 April 2009, 3:20 pm

        First off, you’re totally right: Lisbeth is the only reason to read this book. A girl with mild Asperger’s who kicks ass? Right on! I’m sure they’ll put her in a leather corset in the movie, though.

        hmm. . .is Mikael’s disregard for women the same as Harald’s or Gottfried’s? Is it a diluted form of it? Or is it so completely void of regard that he is, actually, the only safe guy in the world?

        For one, I’m pretty sure Mikael never actively asked for a commitment from any of the women we saw him sleep with, who all seduced HIM (or controlled the relationship): Berger remained married, the neighbor seduced him and then asked him to leave, and I think Lisbeth slept with him when he was hurt or something (the first time)?

        Now, granted, this is a fantastical vision of how women act: Mikael is just such a lovable slouch that they can’t help but sleep with him, even though they know he’s not good for anything more than that. And he definitely hasn’t learned in his 40ish years that when you sleep with a woman, she becomes, you know, attached to you.

        I don’t think he hates women, I just don’t think he cares about anyone but himself. The man is a puppy. I think if any of these women – who are all smart and in tune with themselves – had sensed any danger from him, they never would have formed any relationship with him.

        That’s why I’m frustrated with him; he didn’t change from being the guy who lives his life off of being a “good guy” who happens to be in the right place at the right time even though it almost ended him (literally and professionally). He got rescued by Lisbeth (physically) and Berger (professionally) and did nothing to change the way he goes through the world. I wonder if he’s the protagonist of the next two books and will fall into some situation.

        I’m pretty sure all of the gruesome “bible murders” were Harald’s, weren’t they (which would make him a mass murderer or at least a serial killer)? I thought the Nazi history was fascinating from a “wow, I never knew that Sweden had that history” perspective, but not from a “does this move the story of the book” perspective. I didn’t catch whether the victims were all Jewish, though that would make sense and tie the Nazi theme back to the actual plot, so you’re probably right.

        Am I off base about Mikael? Is the fact that I’m a white male coloring my reading of him and “letting him off easy?” Interesting.

        • PurpleCar 7 April 2009, 4:42 pm


          Ya know, I might be taking a totally female approach to this, but I think Mikael disregards women. Of course you’re right, he “gets off easy” (no pun intended!). He was terrible to Lisbeth. I think he’s terrible to Berger, really. I know both women act on their own accord, but to respect women is to treat them better than they treat themselves, isn’t it?

          He totally disregarded the “they get attached to you” rule, as you mentioned. That’s idiot move #1. #2 is that he ducks any sort of emotional attachment. When Lisbeth asked about Berger, Mikael basically said that he wasn’t going to give up banging Berger no matter what came down the path. I thought that was awful to say! If you respected another person, you’d step lightly there, trying first to assess their feelings. Mikael is just an ass. He ignores any woman’s feelings. He treated Mr. Vanger, who was obviously a manipulative jerk, with so much more tenderness and respect than he ever treated any of the women in the story. He was concerned for him, not wanting to tell him the whole sordid story, but he didn’t worry one bit about Berger or Lisbeth or even Cecilia. The man slept with 3 women in the course of the book and not once did he show the tenderness that he showed to the frail Vanger at his bedside. He hardly showed any real empathy
          toward Harriet.

          I don’t think he made the decision to squash the story REALLY because of Harriet. I think he squashed the story because Vanger didn’t want him to publish it. So in essence, yeah, Mikael stayed a jerk and didn’t change much at all. He thinks he’s above other men because he doesn’t beat women, but he hardly gives himself to any either.

          I have a sinking suspicion that Larsson meant to put forth the double entendre in the “The Man Who Hated Women” title.



          • sawinkler 8 April 2009, 9:11 am

            Yeah, Mikael is a cad. But I’m not sure Larsson (a founder of a lefty publication and organisation, himself) didn’t see himself as Mikael or at least admire him. Sort of as a James Bond/Reporter.

            More true life irony: Larsson’s long term partner Eva Gabrielsson, who found his will, has no legal right to the inheritance (from wikipedia). Talk about disregard for your woman.

            I guess we’ll know how Larsson sees woman by what happens in the next two books. Though I doubt I’ll read them.

  • JMal 15 January 2010, 8:40 pm

    I feel like the book should have been called, “You have a vagina? I have a penis!” (On behalf of Blomkvist). He didn’t seem to hate women but he seemed very self-absorbed and ready to get his rocks off at any time. In the second book he is sleeping with Harriet Vanger from the first book. Really? So you had sex with her cousin (?) Cecilia in the first book, Harriet’s brother Henry kissed you and tried to kill you and now it is a “natural” progression for you to start sleeping with Harriet, the abused “murdered” victim from the first book?

    I just wish he could keep it in his pants and the book would have a little more substance for me. Enough of his sex life already.

    • PurpleCar 15 January 2010, 10:08 pm


      Totally good points, and I did find that a bit annoying. I think the character, Michael, is just a disaffected slut, and slutty behavior is off-putting in general. Perhaps by the 3rd book he’ll find that he actually can love. I think Michael is really “the man who hates women” because he just uses them and never lends one thought that they deserve respect and love. He fools himself into thinking that he has “mature” and “open” relationships with them, but really he treats them like shit. He has no moral sense, despite his “do-gooder” reporting behaviors.

      Anyway, he’ll probably snap out of it in the 3rd book. That’s my guess for his “hero’s” journey. We’ll have to wait until the book comes out to see. But yes, you’re right. He’s gross.



  • Chris Vincent 26 January 2010, 1:16 pm

    I liked the book (CD). Mostly. It’s one of the few times I was so engrossed with a story I couldn’t turn off my CD player. But I hated the ending and cannot figure out why Larsson decided to end things the way he did. Except for the extended (and sometimes boring) discussions about Vanger’s family history, and Vennerstroms crooked financial dealings, the story engaged me immensely. I thought Larsson’s treatment of Blomkvist and his affected and disaffected relationships with women was acceptable so long as there was a pay-off in the end, which, of course, there wasn’t. I’ve looked at the story several ways and cannot understand why he spoiled what could have been a great love story, in addition to all the murderous intrigue.

    Sometimes writers get ahead of themselves too much and become their own worst enemy. This ending was too cute (dreadfully so) by half. Speaking for myself, I feel cheated. Very cheated. In fact, I was really pissed. The pitch (set-up) was perfect for a great ending. Instead of Blomkvist completing is arc he stops at 99.9%, as does Salander (although her stall is at least comprehensible). Salander simply has been through too much (as we, the reader have) and for her to just chuck away the past 6 or 12 months of emotional growth is well, unbearable. The final scene should have taken place at Salander’s apartment…when there’s a knock on the door…and perhaps we don’t even need to know who it is…but we can guess. That’s one ending (if you still want cute–perhaps the movie takes this direction?). Better yet, after taking Salander in his arms, Blomvist should come full circle, explain his friendly daliance with Erika, and admit it is Salander whom he really loves. Big kiss, the end.

    Just a thought.

    • PurpleCar 27 January 2010, 5:13 pm

      Hi Chris! Thanks for joining in.

      I listened to the books and read them, and the CDs are very enjoyable, I agree. I think Larsson knew this was going to be a three-part series, so things end a bit suddenly for books 1 and 2. I can’t wait for 3, to see if Larsson did work out a redeemable character. The Vanger family history does drone on a bit, now that you mention it. I gathered more when I listened to that part instead of reading it. I found myself skimming when I was reading.

      Hollywood has trained us all to expect a certain story arc, and the rest of the world doesn’t always write that way, even for mass market or mainstream fiction books. I actually had to stop reading French books because they just were too … too … character driven? I don’t know how to explain it, really. They tend to wander around and have very inwardly-focused characters that definitely change but basically get nothing done. The Hollywood ending (and beginning – i.e. “meeting cute”- for that matter) aren’t necessary for me to enjoy a book, but I can see how you felt cheated. Are you going to read the third book?



      • Chris Vincent 27 January 2010, 6:50 pm


        I haven’t read the second book, let alone the third. So does Salander play a big role in Book 2? (Why am I so hung up on Salander? Credit Larsson, I guess).

        After I submitted my comments I did consider that perhaps everything gets nicely re-threaded and tied up by the end of Book 3. Guess I’ll have to keep reading.

        You are absolutely right about Hollywood. Arbitrary endings rarely sell, although that movie a couple of years ago with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston (can’t remember the name of it) was left a bit open ended as I recall, yet it actually worked.

        I don’t mind mind character driven stories–in fact I prefer them from time to time, but they have to make sense. Character motivation is important, plus passion. I don’t mind if they’re complicated so long as I can follow what’s going on. If it becomes too much of a task, I won’t finish it. I usually allow up to 50%; if things remain too elusive, it goes back on the shelf. (Most of the time. I stayed with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and really disliked it. Nothing against dogs, but god–).

        Anyway, I should stop. Thanks for writing back.



        • PurpleCar 27 January 2010, 9:01 pm


          Yes the second book is pretty much all about Salander. AND, it gets SICK. She rocks, in essence. I like her character a lot. I’ll probably be insanely angry when the motion picture comes out, because they won’t be able to portray her as EPIC as she is.

          The third book isn’t out yet in English.

          I hope it all gets tied up in a minimally satisfying way at least by the end of the third book. I, too, was heartbroken by that ass Blomkvist by the end of “The Man Who Hated Women” or as we know it, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I was thinking, perhaps it was a cultural disconnect that Blomkvist has this long standing affair with a married woman and it’s all ok with the husband, etc. I thought, maybe they are stranger than us in Sweden? Doubtful, because, honestly, I don’t know of any cultures that are stranger than American… but hey. It turns out that Blomkvist is just an ass and Larsson was probably referring to him in the title. He can’t commit or give of himself. Why? we don’t know. Maybe his general apathy toward women and their feelings (while purporting to be “mature” about “relationships”) is worse than malice. Hate is probably one step higher on the moral scale than apathy. Forgive the meta quality of this statement, but pure disregard is
          probably the truest form of hate.

          ANYHOO… please go on, because you know I could. If you liked Salander though, you should run out and read the 2nd book tomorrow. Then we can chat more.



          • Chris Vincent 28 January 2010, 3:20 pm

            Hey PC,

            What do you mean sick? Sounds interesting. Maybe you can fill me in a little bit. I guess I should read the second book. I wonder how the’ll do the film here–dubbed in English or sub-titles??

            I don’t know about any cultural disconnect between us and Europe although I think mores there (including Sweden) are more relaxed whern it comes to sleeping around.

            I’m going to keep an open mind about Blomkvist until the end of the Book 3. Let me ask you this. Does he romp around with as many women in Book 2 as in the first book? And how does he handle the situation with Salandar? Perhaps by Book 3, he figures out he’s been in love with Salandar all along (but like many typical guys, he’s just too dumb to know it. Or, he’s afraid of committment, and thus in denial of his true feelings.) Blomkvist is nobody’s fool, maybe he is hiding a secret like Salandar. Wouldn’t it be somerthing if Salander dumps him after he comes to the realization he’s been in love with her all this time.

            I don’t think Blomkvist is evil or filled with malice toward women. I could be wrong but I also don’t think the title of the first book has to do with him. The 3rd Book will tell us for sure. If I’m wrong, I’ll but you a virual beer.



            • PurpleCar 28 January 2010, 8:22 pm

              Jeez, Chris, are you in for a big surprise. Go check out the second book. I don’t want to talk about it, so as to not give anything away. Salander fans will like the 2nd book more than the first.

              I’ll say no more.

              AAAND hopefully I get that virtual beer, because even though I’d like a Hollywood ending, I’d be happier with one that fits with the characters, because that would be more truthful.



              • Chris Vincent 29 January 2010, 2:55 pm

                Hey, look at me. I decided to sign up.

                I will plan to read the second book soon (as soon as I
                finish with Stephen King’s Under The Dome).

                If this page is still up and running I will get back with you to compare notes. I’m curious about Salander’s character in the second book. Kudos have to go to Larsson for making her so real and appealing. That’s a gift I wish I had.

                Talk to you soon.


                • PurpleCar 29 January 2010, 3:09 pm

                  Yeah, me too, man. I’d love to create such a memorable character.

                  Well, I’ve been blogging since 2004, so I’m not too worried about purplecar.net still being here. But ya never know. I’d like to know how Under The Dome is; I’ve heard a bunch about it.



                  • Chris Vincent 29 January 2010, 10:00 pm

                    Hi PC,

                    Blogging since 2004. That’s a long time. You do good work.

                    I’m 218 pages into Under the Dome (it’s over a 1,000 pages long). So far, I’m not disappointed. I read a lot of Stephen King so I know what to expect. It’s not unlike the Homer Simpson Movie made a couple of years ago when a dome was placed over Springfield…I sometimes wonder if this is where King got his inspiration (kidding).

                    Anyways, I’ll let you know how it goes as I get deeper into the novel. In the meantime, I think I’ll pick up The Girl Who Played with Fire on CD. I’m anxious to pick up Salander’s trail again. You’ve piqued my curiosity. I will be in touch.


                    • PurpleCar 30 January 2010, 12:40 am

                      RAWK. Can’t wait to hear how the Dome goes (Simpson inspiration totally understood and maybe you’re right!) and what you think of Salander after the 2nd book.

                      See you soon. Thanks for the convo, I appreciate it.


                    • Chris Vincent 22 February 2010, 2:08 pm

                      Hi PC,

                      I just finished listening to The Girl Who Played With Fire. What a read (so to speak)! I really enjoyed it. Larsson knows how to write. I’ll never think of ‘coffee’ and ‘sandwiches’ the same. Nor the word ‘garten’ (which must mean ‘street’ in Swedish) no?

                      At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Salander as much as the first book–too much lezbo sex (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I was especially confused about one scene where she was handcuffed and blind folded by Mimi. Even though this was playful role playing, I would have thought Salander would have gone ballistic…but I digress…most of the story was first rate. I zipped through all 15 discs in two weeks and must say I can’t wait for the third book.

                      With Erica moving away from Millenium, will this open the door for Salander and Blomkvist? I wonder what the next adventure will be about?
                      So much to discuss.

                      P.S. I’m about half way through Under the Dome. Another great read.

                    • PurpleCar 22 February 2010, 5:44 pm

                      Hey Chris! Glad you liked it. What did you think of the ending? Much more salander, less arsehole in this book. I don’t like all the crap with Erica and Millenium. Honestly, like it’s life or death or something. It’s just a magazine. Poor Mimi, man. I didn’t mind all the sex scenes, didn’t bother me.

                      Anyway, the ending annoyed me slightly but all in all, a pretty sick book.



                    • Chris Vincent 23 February 2010, 12:46 pm

                      I didn’t have trouble with the ending. I had to suspend belief a lot of times in this book and the burial scene (although jolting) worked for me. And since we all know there’s at least one more book to follow, I read this as just the end of another chapter, rather than the end of the book.

                      I think Erica’s hot! I wish she played a bigger role in both books (kidding). Actually, I really didn’t have a problem with her. She’s a minor character who hel[ps move the story along and I think Michael will get over the fact she’s leaving Millenium fairly quickly. Perhaps as only a board member (once she resigns) she will be allowed to wrap up some loose ends in the third story. She may or may not continue her relationship with MB. (Again, I don’t really care).

                      A pretty sick book, indeed.

                    • PurpleCar 23 February 2010, 1:41 pm

                      Yeah but Michael’s a lazy bum, really, and he doesn’t want to run the magazine. He’s content to let the women do it. I mean, that whole move to get Vennestrom on the board… just more set-up so he doesn’t have to actually work. If Erica leaves, the board will hang on and try to get them a new editor, but MB won’t step up, that’s for darn sure. It would make him feel old and responsible.

                      OK the burial scene. Kind of symbolic, don’t you think? The whole sequence starting from there until the end was pure movie-level stuff, including some real comedy when the brute was frightened off by Salander’s “ghost.” Funny stuff. I can’t wait to see it portrayed on a big screen.

                      I hope Salandar’s scum of a dad dies, but it wasn’t clear at the end of the book if he was totally dead. Maybe living out a few years totally incapacitated would be more satisfactory to watch for most readers.

                      Anyway, I wonder if Salandar will find peace in the 3rd book and if MB actually cleans up that freakin’ beer gut and stops being such a slut. I already reserved my copy of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. The english interpretation is out: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780307269997



                    • Chris Vincent 23 February 2010, 7:27 pm

                      So you’re not a big fan of Mr. Blomkvist, I take it. He may have weak morales and commitment issues, but I like him as a co-protaganist. And I think he’s a dedicated worker even if he delegates too often. (If he remained at the magazine, he wouldn’t have time to solve the juicy murder mysteries.) The man/men who hates/hate women is not MB; I think it refers to all of the other slithering scumbags associated with the police department, Adromsky’s investigation service, Millenium, or Zala and company. Quite a few, in fact.

                      The burial scene was a bit campy but as I said earlier, it worked for me. And I agree the set up/pay-off was fun. I think we all saw it coming. Poor Blonde Giant. Symbolic? Perhaps. You can’t keep a good girl down!

                      I have stopped caring about Zala. I hope he’s dead too. But it is a thread that may lead to the next book. What a dispicable creep…and (I can’t say it), father?

                      I’m not sure if Salander will ever find peace (poor restless soul). I wonder if she will be eventually killed off which in my opinion would be regrettable. I like her a lot but I’m not exactly sure who she is…can she really be that dense (no offense intended) with regard to her emotions?


  • qwertsa 20 March 2010, 3:44 am

    I just finished reading the book, and I didn’t understand the part where she dresses as a blonde and uses a fake name…did she do this to steal money from Hans corporation?

    • PurpleCar 20 March 2010, 9:23 am

      Well, Salander is a hacker… Let’s see if I remember it correctly… Salander set up a fake identity and she dressed up to look TOTALLY different from herself so she wouldn’t be nabbed by the police. She needed to go to a bank and do some transactions as that fake person, but she couldn’t walk in to the bank expecting the bank tellers to believe she was some european heiress looking like a punk kid.

      The money trail is a bit fuzzy. I think she did divert money from Vennestrom into that fake ID account, but I can’t remember the details. Anyway, the point of the disguise was to fool the bank tellers into believing that she looked like someone who would have that kind of money.

      If I get a chance to find those pages in the book again, I’ll come back with a more detailed answer.

      -PurpleCar Christine Cavalier


  • lee 6 June 2010, 6:39 pm

    i did not hate this book,but i certainly didn’t love it.it was just there.little more editing would have been beneficial.but for the most part the story held my attention,and salander is a cool and interesting new heroine.so now i’m reading”the girl who played with fire”-a little more editing would be cool here ,too.but it’s interesting enough and i never pitch a book aside unless it,s really awful-prince of tides awful.i think you are being a little thin-skinned over the use of the word “girl”the author,like his male protagonist,are middle-aged men to whom anyone under thirty,especially tiny lisbeth salander,would seem youthful and yes,girlish.i don,t believe that it is being used in any sexist or really misogynistic way.so….next i,ll read “the girl who kicked the hornet,s nest” and be done with stieg larsson-neither the best nor the worst author i,ve read-just somewhere in the middle.maybe the third in the trilogy will be fabulous….

    • PurpleCar 6 June 2010, 6:52 pm

      Lee, thanks for commenting!

      I’m reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest now. It’s definitely better written. Perhaps the translation is better? There was a big stink about the English translation of the first book, Dragon Tattoo, so perhaps the translations of the second and third books in the series were treated with a bit more respect.

      I may be a little “thin-skinned” as you say about the use of “girl” but the use of that term to mean “women” in real life (not fiction) is mysogynist and sexist. The user of the term “girl” may not intend to be sexist, but the use of the misnomer is a result of the male-dominated culture, and is inherently demeaning to women. That being said, perhaps the use of “girl” is actually a conscious decision, to speak to Salander’s diminutive size and the subsequent misjudging and mishandling of her based on those prejudices. Salander is not to be underestimated, but she is, due to her sex and her appearance. I can see where someone could make an argument that “girl” is used in this sense, to refer to said underestimation of the formidable enemy that is Salander.

      My husband finished the third book and was thrilled with it, and so far, it is the best written in the series, as I said. It could be that Larsson was just used to writing books by the time the third one was in process… I don’t know. I heard he wrote the whole series as one book and the publisher broke it up. Who knows. Rumor mills abound around the publishing industry, and you can never know what’s real and what is mere publicity.

      But then again, that can be applied to life, can’t it?



  • Chris vincent 8 June 2010, 11:30 am

    I’m looking forward to the final book. I don’t know whether to buy a copy or wait for the audio version, since I’m rather attuned to Simon Vance’s voice (BBC Radio).

    As most of you know, I have a lot of respect for Larsson and I love what he has done with all of his characters in this edgy triology. I will be anxious to pick up the trail again with Salander and Blomkvist; I’m curious to see how both are doing because I truly care about both of them.

    I saw the Swedish version of TGhe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and was very impressed. To Lee’s point, the screenplay was greatly edited, yet I think justice to the book was well served.

    I’m not familiar with the actors but I thought the film was well cast. Has anybody else seen the movie? The girl (ahem, actress) who played Salander came off as a smart, tough, scary and quite attactive individual. I’m wondering who will play the part in the American version? If it’s too Hollywoodized, I think it will lose its edge, and that will be a shame.



    • PurpleCar 9 June 2010, 9:06 am

      Yes, I love Simon Vance reading. I read and listened to the first two books. Right now I just own the print version of the last book. I’m taking a break from reading it, as I need to get some other work done before I can really get into the story. I know it’s going to be complicated!

      I didn’t get to see the movie, but I hear it was great. We are going to rent it when it is out on DVD. Friends saw it, and they said the gruesome scenes were … uh … graphic. I suppose it’s one thing to read it and imagine it, and quite another to see them portrayed on screen.

      I 100% agree with you about the Hollywood version of Dragon Tattoo. I’ll be pissed if it’s too stupid. I hope they get unknowns to play the leads, but they probably won’t.

      Thanks for checking in! Come back and tell me (with spoiler warnings if necessary, please) what you think of Hornet’s Nest.

      -Christine Cavalier

      • Chris Vincent 26 July 2011, 1:05 pm

        Good Morning,

        Has it really been a year since I completed the reading of Hornet’s Nest?  I was scrolling down my Favorites and came across the Purple Car address.  Thought I’d look things up to see how everybody was doing.  (Like the new fancy graphics–nice!)

        Well.  The final book was as good as the others although things moved a bit slowly while Lizsbeth remained in the hospital.  The ending at the brickworks yard was as fine as any graphic novel I have read recently, and I think that’s one of the things that make Larsson so appealing; his ability to shake things up–genre-wise.  It’s like they say, know the rules of writing, then break them (should you wish).

        Curiously, did you happen  to note the very end of the story when Blomkvist comes to visit Salander, at her apartment?  Talk about prophetic.  (Scroll down and see my entry from about a year ago).



        • PurpleCar 26 July 2011, 8:24 pm

          It is nice to see you Chris!

          You are spooky. Or at the very least, quite well-read. Having the knock at the door is an obvious choice, now, looking back on it, because no readers would want Lisbeth to stay away from that cad Blomkvist forever; U.S.A. readers would definitely want them back together somehow, even just as friends (or as a trusty crime-fighting duo). But as I was reading the last book, I was OK with them not finding one another again, probably because I have this basic disdain for Blomkvist and I want Lisbeth to stand on her own. I also truly was surprised, because I expected that the non-disney-ified Swede Larsson would go for the eurotrash ending: “It is fate. Life is hard. It is misery and death.” and not go for the Hollywood cute denouement. I think the Hollywood cute is hilarious next to nailing feet into floors and other snuff like that (<– wasn't a typo). 
          Still waiting on the US film. This crap takes forever, apparently. I am satiated for now by the last installment of Harry Potter. IMAX 3D is the only way to view those movies, I'm convinced. The Larsson movies? I'll probably only be able to stand watching them on my DS. I shut my eyes during the Swedish versions… but again, they are all comfy with the misery and death. Hollywood will make it look so fake that we'll all be waiting eagerly for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version to come out.

          Thanks on the fancy-schmancy compliment. My graphics were done by Rick Wolff. You can find him here: http://rickwolff.com/

          Great to see you, Chris. I enjoyed this conversation.

          Are you reading The Hunger Games trilogy? It's YA but it's pretty mesmerizing. I'm on the last of the 3 books. 


          • Chris Vincent 26 July 2011, 10:30 pm

            Hi Christine,

            Great to hear from you again.  The bond of love is difficult to break.  And I do think there was love (some kind of love) between Lisbeth and Blomkvist–from the very beginning.  You can’t go through what they went through and not have some shared feelings of closeness–hard as that may be to believe.

            From the very beginning, Lisbeth (in my mind, anyway) has always stood on her own.  Courage-wise, intelligence-wise, she has always been a rung or two above Blomkvist.  She needs no defense or justification.  She’s exceptional (but she would be the last to admit this). 

            I laughed (I really did) at your Hollywood cute/ feet nailing  juxtaposition.  You are very funny.    

            I have not seen the latest Harry Potter movie, nor have I read the Hunger Games.  Right now I’m in the middle of Ron Chernow’s epic biography, Washington–A life.  

            I plan to see Cowboys and Aliens this weekend.




            • PurpleCar 28 July 2011, 4:51 pm

              Let me know how that Cowboys and Aliens is… you are definitely a comic book / graphic novel dude, I can tell. I will trust your opinion of the movie… it’s probably a rental for me.

  • PB 19 June 2010, 9:54 pm

    I just wanted to say that I thought there were some good thoughts and comments posted here.

    I just finished the third book and I found it a very good read. Strike that, I loved it. An early father’s day gift, I read it in a day and a half.

    To me, Larsson made his primary characters realistic and believable. Despite their extraordinary talents and abilities they are fallible. They display traits that are at times endearing and at times downright annoying, kind of like most of the people I consider my friends. Larsson did a good job on making me think about a lot of issues including trust in relationships, abuse of power by individuals and by persons in authority – I never have really trusted shrinks anyway though ;-).

    It is a shame that his time came to such an early end. I will miss further opportunities to hang out with these characters.

    I find it hard to comment much on the third book, as I would not want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of it. It will be interesting to see how people view their earlier comments after they have read through to the end.

    I can comment on the Swedish version of the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Chris Vincent in my view was right on with his assessment. I also found that it was cast very well. Noomi Rapace captured the vision that I had formed in my minds eye of Lisbeth Salander perfectly. A picture is worth a thousand words and there is a scene where she is looking off in the distance that I can picture whenever I think of the vulnerable side of Salander. I found the pace and editing of book content was well done and maintained the appropriate edginess.

    The criticism some have made about the “over the top” violence, particularly the 4 minute sexual assault scene is worthy of some discussion. I agonized over this, as the only one in my family who wanted to see this with me was my 24-year-old daughter. She had not read the book and I was concerned about how that may end up being a bit awkward. We discussed it before and she said she was still game. It is a scene that would be uncomfortable for anyone to watch regardless of the circumstances. If you don’t find it uncomfortable then despite my earlier comment you should see a shrink. We discussed it afterwards and her opinion was that it was very effective and appropriate in making the movie meaningful and thought provoking. I agree with that assessment.

    I believe she enjoyed the movie as much as I did despite the subtitles and the fact she had not read the book.

    Anyway this is getting too long winded. I certainly recommend this trilogy.

    • PurpleCar 19 June 2010, 10:44 pm

      PB thanks for that, I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis.

      Well, my husband and I just now came out of the movie of book 1, Men Who Hate Women aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’m responding to you via my droid phone so I can’t type it all out now, but we did see some inconsistences in the movie. Will chat more later with spoiler alerts. I had to look away from the rape scene, but I’m a notorious wimp with that kind of stuff. Ok time for ice cream, will respond more on Monday. Thanks again.

  • Dlw1012 20 December 2010, 1:12 am

    I found the book interesting and had difficulty putting it down. I was disappointed in the section when Blomkquist went to Martin’s house and was restrained by him. The whole section on Salander’s saving him was unbelievable to me. For someone as smart and savvy as she was portrayed to be, she made several mistakes – turning her back on Martin, not picking up the gun, not shooting him (at least in the leg to incapacitate him). When he ran out the door, they were lucky he didn’t lock them in. I wish the author would have made this section more believable.

    • PurpleCar 20 December 2010, 9:02 am

      These are all good points. I, too, was a bit disappointed in those things. It
      seemed too cliche´ to me: action scene, hero is kicking ass but then towards the
      end, the hero makes a mistake, the villain comes back and wounds the hero, blah
      blah blah. Some good editing could have saved that scene.

      The fight scenes in the next book and the last book are as unbelievable. More
      gripping, though, I have to say.

      That being said, I didn’t suspect Martin at all. Did you?


  • Aman 26 May 2011, 12:53 am

    Just read this one. All in all a great book; a little too violent for my liking though!
    Steig Larsson has done a wonderful job with the characters though…
    Great review though  🙂 I did a similar review at http://latestbookreviews.net/the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/

  • nene 4 October 2011, 12:03 pm

    whatn is the ending of this book.