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Journalist Mikael Blomqvist has just been found guilty of libel and sentenced to 90 days in jail and slapped with a huge fine. He needs to take a break from journalism for a while, so when a former industrial tycoon asks him to write a family history while investigating a 40-year-old mystery, Mikael takes him up on the offer.
I’ll be honest here. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump for a couple of weeks. I’m just tired from work and even reading takes more energy than I have. So that might be why I didn’t fall in love with this, like so many of my friends have. But I don’t think that’s entirely it.
One of the biggest things that I think knocked this down a few stars for me is the fact that if I think you’re about to start talking about Finance, Investment, Economics, or anything like that, my eyes start to glaze over and I start hearing you the way we hear Charlie Brown’s mother: “Wa wa wah wa wah….” Yes, it really is that bad. There’s not a lot of that here, but since my tolerance hovers around zero for that kind of thing, a little was too much for me. I still don’t have a clue what Salander got up to at the end of this. I needed it spelled out in small words.
But speaking of Salander, I am hopelessly intrigued by her. She was really the big draw of the book for me. Asocial, a little goth, super-intelligent, mysterious, and with a preternatural ability to sniff out someone’s deepest, darkest secrets, I always wanted to know more about her. There are little clues here and there, but we don’t find out too much of her personal story. I’m hoping that we’ll learn more as the trilogy goes along.
The mystery was pretty good. I didn’t really know who did it until I was supposed to know. Unfortunately, when the obvious mystery wraps up, another one sort of starts up for the last hundred pages and I dislike it when authors do that too. It did all make sense together in this book, but I like to keep it to just one mystery at a time. There was one HUGE coincidence that provided one of the breaks in the case. Coincidences feel like weaknesses in mystery stories. Maybe not, but this one felt like the author had dug himself into an unsolvable hole and this was the only way he could dig himself out. I didn’t care for that either.
The translation from the Swedish was very good and very British. We’re talking “gaol-bird” instead of “jailbird” and minor phrases like that. There were some things that didn’t make sense, but they were just little things. I like to understand everything though, so this bothered me a little. I’m just talking about abbreviations like “an intern straight out of JMK.” Not a huge deal, but I would have preferred to get a name there instead of the abbreviation. And there was this too: “one main street, appropriately enough called Storgatan.” ??? Why is that “appropriate”? Not a big deal, but I think that could have just been left out since it wasn’t going to make sense to probably 95% of his English readers. Maybe other translations have this kind of thing too, but since I can only really remember reading translations from Spanish, and I do have a basic understanding of that language, I may have overlooked them.
Be warned that there is one scene that is pretty brutal. It felt a little gratuitous except that it gave us a little more insight into Salander’s character. I really could have done without it though.
Overall, this was just okay. I could have put it down at any point and never picked it up again. I did enjoy reading about Salander, so I’ll pick up the next book. I don’t have terribly high hopes for it, but I do hope that we learn more about her.
Review written July 13, 2009
Read my 4-star review of the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire. This was the first review I posted on my blog!
Read my Character Connection post about Lisbeth Salander.
I’ll be picking up the third in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, from the library today, so look for that review soon!