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[personal profile] fidhle
I just finished reading two books by Stieg Larsson, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Girl Who Played with Fire." They are two thirds of a trilogy, with the last novel scheduled to come out in English in a little later this year. I can hardly wait until it does to get it.

Stieg Larsson was a journalist in Sweden who wrote these books in his spare time. Alas, he died at the age of 50 of a massive coronary, leaving the three books completed, plus, I understand, a fourth which was largely done on his laptop. The books are thriller/mystery books, with an unlikely pair of heros. Mikael Blomkvist is, like Larsson, a journalist and owner of a small magazine called "Millennium", which has kinda become the title for the series. In the beginning of the first novel, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," who has just lost a case of libel against him and is forced to leave his magazine. He comes into contact with a wealthy businessman who offers him a job, which he needs, to write a history of his family, and to find out who killed his niece, Harriet.

At the same time, a security firm has a private investigator named Lisbeth Salander, one of the most fascinating characters I have come across in fiction. Salander is described as being 24, four foot eleven inches, and weighing 88 pounds. She is also described as looking anorexic and could easily be mistaken for a teen boy. She is basically asocial, rarely talking, and is considered by many as a nut job, or a psych case, or autistic. What she is is badly hurt by her past and determined to not be a victim. She is also a brilliant hacker and highly moral, although not always compliant with the law. Seems that Lisbeth was hired to investigate Blomkvist by the industrialist, and when Blomkvist needs an investigator, she is recommended and hired. Together they manage to solve the mystery. Oh yes, Solander also manages to save Blomkvist's life at one point, and they develop an attraction to each other, which becomes a major conflict for Solander.

Salander is a bit like Faith in "Buffy" if Faith dressed punk and was a master hacker. Like Faith, she does things on her own terms, and is capable of using violence to protect herself. Like Faith, she is underestimated by the larger society.

One of the themes of both books is the treatment of women. The Swedish title for the first book translates as "Men who hate women," and there is much of that in both books. Blomkvist is one of only a few men who have treated Salander as an equal, many men in her life, including her "legal guardian," having treated her as a sex object. Of course, being resourceful, Salander manages to turn the tables on her "guardian," which sets up one of the conflicts in the second book, as the "guardian" seeks his revenge.

The books have been made into movies in Sweden, although they have not been released in the US or the UK, nor have they been given English subtitles. There is some discussion about US producers making a version in English. Yellow Bird, a film company in Sweden, has the rights to the films, and they did authorize an English version of some of the "Wallander" stories, another Swedish detective series, starring Kenneth Branagh, which were very well done and which appeared recently on PBS.

I am looking forward to the release of the third novel and to sometime seeing the movies, hopefully the original with subtitles. The second book is currently number one on the Washington Post bestseller list for fiction, so they are quite popular, and I would highly recommend them.


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March 2013

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