Monday, December 6, 2010

Solving the mystery that can't be solved

By Tiffany Young
After repeatedly hearing how good "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson was I decided I must read it, so I put it on hold at the Austin Public Library. When I went home, my brother was reading it and that peaked my interest even further. I didn't know anything about the book, but when I got home from Thanksgiving I had an e-mail from the library saying it was in.

The first chapter or two seemed interesting, but it had so much information concerning financial journalism I wasn't so sure I even got the right book! But I continued on in the hopes that it would live up to my expectation.

And thankfully, it did. It took about a week to read—maybe less—and the plot thickened as I went along. All these people who seemed unrelated wound their way around around like a string on a bobbin.

The main character, Mikael Blomqvist, has been found guilty of libel from a major corporation in Sweden and will have to do time. He gets a bit frustrating when he almost refuses to take on a job, despite his having no other plan to speak of for a time. It's well-paying, intriguing and best of all, flexible and out of the limelight while his court case can blow over.

The man who hires Blomqvist is Henrik Vanger, an old man who wants to solve the mystery of his nieces murder before he dies. He's spent years trying to solve the mystery of how she died and her body was never found on the island, but he and the retired police chief just can't break the case.

Blomqvist is hired to solve the mystery, but is also given the task to write the Vanger family's story. This task allows him to pry into the crevices of the family, but the Vanger's know better and realize right away what Blomqvist's real job entails.

But looking for a murderer who may still be living on the island complicates matters for the journalist, which leads him to be shot at, threatened and even almost strangled to death.

Another character even more complicated than Blomqvist or Vanger is the woman the book is named for. The girl with the dragon tattoo is Lisbeth Salander, a troubled young woman with an even more troubling background. Salander has been abused and misused her whole life and has no faith in fellow mankind. That may be what makes her such a great private investigator—her ability to dissect a person's character without getting too involved or assuming the best of someone. She believes everyone has secrets and if they have them, you can bet she'll find them.

After Salander is hired to do a background check on Blomqvist for Vanger, Vanger's lawyer lets it slip who she is and Blomqvist decides she is thorough enough to assist him in his research of the mystery. Once she finishes her initial task, she is hooked on the story and forces Blomqvist to allow her to continue working on the case alongside him.

The two make an odd couple, but between her computer hacking skills and his journalistic methodology they may just find the murderer(s) before their time runs out.

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