After crusading financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist is convicted of libel, he reluctantly agrees to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of the teenaged Harriet Vanger for her great-uncle Henrik, a rich industrialist. He is aided by the antisocial hacker Lisabeth Salander, the eponymous tattooed girl.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published shortly before Larsson’s untimely death, and later became an international bestseller. It’s a classic locked-room mystery—Harriet disappeared from a sealed-off island full of the extended, ugly Vanger clan. It’s an indictment of the Nazism buried not so deeply in Sweden’s past, of sexual violence and misogyny, and of the ethical failings and complicity of financial journalists. It’s a dark thriller where Blomkvist and Sanger are hunted by a sadistic killer. It’s a Ludlumesque technothriller where Sanger “stings” a rich crook. It’s a character study of a disturbed and brilliant young woman.
It’s a bit too much really: there are too many things going on. But it is quite entertaining.