Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Posted by engi at 11:58:00 AM

A middle-aged journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, publishes the magazine Millennium in Stockholm. In the opening courtroom drama, Blomkvist loses a libel case brought by accused Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström, and this has serious repercussions for the future of Millennium. In disgrace, Blomkvist agrees to be hired by Henrik Vanger, the aged former CEO of the Vanger companies, owned by a wealthy but dysfunctional dynasty. The old man offers not only to help his financially strapped magazine, but also to give him information to prove that Wennerström is corrupt. Officially, he is to spend a year writing the Vanger family history.

Blomkvist's real mission, however, is to solve a cold case—the disappearance, some forty years previously, of Vanger's great-niece Harriet when she was sixteen. Blomkvist encounters "the old Miss Marple closed-room scenario" with all the rich suspects marooned on the family estate on an island, "a village we grow familiar with, full of hostile locals peering out from behind their curtains".[1]

Blomkvist reads crime novelists Sue Grafton, Val McDermid and Elizabeth George and enjoys amateur sleuthing and investigative journalism, all of which assists him with Henrik Vanger's investigation. The locked-room scenario applies since the island on that fateful day was sealed off from the mainland due to a road-tanker crash on the only bridge. Henrik Vanger believes that Harriet (his brother's granddaughter) was murdered by one of his family members on the island. In addition, Harriet had given Henrik a present of pressed flowers every year since she was eight years old. On Henrik's birthday the year after Harriet's vanishing, he again received a present of pressed flowers, and he continued to receive such flowers, sent from various parts of the world, which he believes to be sent by the killer.

Blomkvist comes to feel that he can discover nothing new. But the real main character of the story now appears—Lisbeth Salander, an asocial punk who has been victimized by authorities throughout her life. By accident, she meets Blomkvist and the unlikely couple form another classic detective pair where the hunters become the hunted. When Blomkvist teams up with Salander, their delving into family secrets sheds a disturbing and shocking light on the four-decade-long puzzle.

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