The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
This book is part of a crime novel triology. The books have gotten a lot of press over the past few years, partly because they have been made into movies and that the third book was just published in the United States in 2010.
I need to start by saying that I loved this book! I didn't love everything in the book or everything about the book, but this book ranks very high on my list of favorites.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This book is deeply embedded in Sweden. The references to names and places and cities were everywhere through the book. It was impossible for me to get any sense of these locations or names or places, since I am not familiar with Sweden or anything Swedish. If I had a map of Sweden, I may have at least felt introduced to the setting. All I can think of is cold weather and blond hair. Luckily, the author does, at times, mention peculiarities of Swedish law. This helped me understand things a bit better, especially when Swedish laws are different than the laws of the United States.
This book is filled with many references to many unsavory adult themes. This is nothing less than an "R"-rated book, at best. I don't have an inherent problem with R-rated as such, but I find these particular themes extremely unpleasant. That said, each reference is brief. The author does not drag these out or give overly extensive graphic details. Thankfully! Nonetheless, these references and themes are rather plentiful throughout the book. The subplots depend on them. They provide motivation and depth to the story. Unpleasant, yes. Brief, yes. Plentiful, yes. Necessary? Maybe.
I was overwhelmingly impressed with the thick, complex, multilayered plot and subplots. This is a well-crafted and beautifully executed story. Maybe that seems at odds with the previous paragraph, but there is no denying that only a skillful and talented writer can construct and populate such a detailed and complicated tale. I am in awe. And everything moves along. Just as things seem to slow a bit, something new happens.
We are given a number of characters, two of which are co-protagonists. We are given quite the background on both of these characters, which gives them body and generates interest. Each of the main characters is portrayed in a unsurprising way. They aren't boring, but they aren't surprising or overly unique either. Early in the book, these characters are presented somewhat separately. It isn't immediately obvious how they will be brought together. When they do all come together, they create an intricate and complex web. This, again, is impressive.
The subplots are numerous and include journalistic responsibilities, corporate fraud, family businesses, a family saga, and all those adult themes interspersed throughout. Each of these adds depth to the story and they drew me in. Of course this adds to the length of the book. The normal-sized print book is 600 pages. As you can see from my picture, I read the large print version, which has 800 pages. This book was long, but I never felt like I wanted to read less of it. Much to the contrary. I couldn't wait to read more each day!
If you don't mind and can handle the adult themes, this is an outstanding book. Set aside some time for this one, and you won't be disappointed. I can't wait to read the next in the trilogy!