This book (by Stieg Larsson, 2005) was, after a slightly slow start, the very definition of a page turner. As in, I kept turning pages to the neglect of other important things like eating, sleeping, and going back to work after my break.
I really enjoyed this book, but it’s hard to know exactly how to “review” it here without giving away too much about the story.
It’s a mystery story, so in a nutshell: a disgraced journalist is hired by an aging millionaire to investigate the 1960s disappearance of his niece. And lots of intrigue ensues.
I really appreciated the pacing of the book. As mysteries go, it’s not the kind of mystery that is intended to plant clues for the reader to discover. Rather, it’s a mystery in which the reader is pulled along as the characters uncover the facts.
There are some themes and scenes that are disturbing, to be sure. Some violence, a lot of men who hate women (which was the original title in Swedish, by the way), and one fun scene in which the victim of a sexual assault gets her revenge. That scene, while disturbing, also makes you want to cheer as she exacts her revenge, which involves a taser, handcuffs, some blackmail, and some serious rage. Good for her.
Some of the Swedish names and places made me stumble, because I have no idea how to pronounce Swedish (on a related note, I was listening to The Phantom of the Opera on librivox.org yesterday and I had to skip a couple of chapters because the person reading had NO IDEA how to pronounce some of the French names of characters, and it became incredibly distracting).
I really liked the small touches and details in this story. For example, the main character, Mikael, kills time by reading mysteries. Sue Grafton, Elizabeth George, and Agatha Christie, and others popped up occasionally in the story.
I also felt as though I should have had a map of Sweden next to me as I read the book. The characters do a fair amount of traveling around Sweden, and it was only after I finished reading that I hunted down a map. It helped.
Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a good summer read.