Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

A murder mystery that will make you question how wrong some crimes really are


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a riveting crime novel that kicks off Stieg Larson’s Millennium series. Larson keeps the reader on edge by leading them through a maze of plot twists before finally revealing a number of secrets at the end of the novel. 

The book is set in a remote part of Sweden and follows Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, as he is drawn into a murder cold case investigation. He is aided by Lisbeth Salander, an expert hacker with a violent history. Skeletons are dragged out of closets-rocking the boat in a small community by putting a local family in the spotlight. The novel shows multiple examples of the effects that violent long term abuse has on a person’s mental health, thus creating sinister yet horrifyingly human villains.

Both of these main characters are well developed with contrasting flaws. Mikael lets people in and out of his life in a constant flow. Lisbeth has managed to isolate herself from almost everyone-existing only online and in a handful of peoples’ pasts.  She is portrayed as both terrifying and delicate, creating an anti-hero-esque persona. Blomkvist levels out her extremes through his passive yet inquisitive nature. 

Another layer of deceit and confusion is added because the book has been translated from Swedish. This produces a certain lack of connotation. This veils certain pieces of foreshadowing while retaining the original dark undertones. While it lacks changes in the style of diction, each character is shown to possess a unique tone and confidence level through their actions. This very deliberate and straightforward style of writing also adds a sense of abruptness to the atrocious crimes committed, which keeps the plot from becoming utterly outlandish.

Keeping the two main characters separate from the crime allows the reader to learn of the events though a mostly unbiased perspective, something novels such as Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train lack. The Girl on the Train, while psychologically fascinating, included various converging perspectives, which can become a headache factory after about 150 pages. 

In conclusion, this novel is definitely not for the faint of heart. It features twisted subplots, stories of abuse survivors, and numerous crimes. But any crime lover, thrill-seeker, or murder afficianado will probably attempt to read it in one sitting. The characters have extreme depth and the writing style allows for readers to quickly work through each conflict. It is an extraordinary piece and deserves to be read by the masses.