Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo – Stieg Larsson

For Book Club Meeting: Saturday, 25th September 2010.
Venue: Ms. Madhavi Murthy’s residence. Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm


All the fictional stories we read in books are moulded from an astounding number of true happenings. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson is no exception. Therein lies Blomkvist of his book who is modeled on the career and personality of Stieg Larsson, himself. Always relying on human connection — how else can novel-writing come up? Always inter-linked with human connection — how else can novel-writing thrive?

Born in northern Sweden in 1954, Stieg Larsson’s parents were too young and too poor to raise him and they asked his grand-parents to bring him up. When Larsson was nine, he moved back to live with his parents as his grand-parents had passed away. On his 12th birthday he was given a typewriter, and he spent most nights staying up writing. At the age of 18 years, he met Eva Gabrielsson, who was to become his life long companion. After his military service, he traveled in Africa. Before his career as a writer, Larsson was a journalist and the chief force behind the founding of Expo-foundation, a group intended on exposing neo-Nazi activity in Sweden. From 1999 onwards, Larsson was appointed chief editor of the magazine Expo. Beginning in the late 1970’s, he combined his work as a graphic designer with holding lectures on racism, right-wing extremism for the Scotland Yard. In the years that followed, Larsson became an expert on the subject and lectured very actively. In the last 15 years of his life, Larsson along with his companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat and danger from right-wing violence. In fact, when a labour-union leader was murdered in his home by neo-Nazis in 1999, the authorities discovered photos of and information about Larsson and Gabrielsson. Both, Larsson and Gabrielsson knew the grave danger they were living in and they continuously took precautionary measures for their safety.

My friends, research these facts and consider this book: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.Yes, yes, we are indeed reading fiction moulded from an astounding number of true happenings!

“Wildly suspenseful… an intelligent ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller.” The Washington Post.

Wildly suspenseful… By my perception, not entirely because the possibility of the common-pet-cat in Hedeby, Hedestad — getting murdered sooner or later, and that Harriet could well be alive, held my belief strongly, through and through.

“A blazing literary sensation… a dark-hearted thriller.” – Vanity Fair. A dark-hearted thriller… certainly. A blazing literary sensation? I’m not sure about that.

“A sexy, addictive thriller” – VAL MCDERMID.

Absolutely, a sexy, addictive thriller. I could not put the book down. I wanted to read more, though I was deeply disturbed with the final mystery enfolding before me – about the most horrific details of the dysfunctional family members of the Vanger Clan: Gottfried, Isabella, and their children Martin and Harriet. Altogether, I was forcing myself not to think of their most abnormal relationships. Somewhere at some place on our planet, the demon-acts of incest, violent sex must be occurring and re-occurring almost by the hour. I am not speculating. After all, ninety-two percent of women in Sweden, itself, who have been subjected to sexual assault, have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police. Think of other countries where law and order hardly prevails. Altogether, the force behind any novel’s plot can also never be completed without the hard gruesome facts of reality. This is the reality. Am I repeating myself again? Perhaps, I am trying to shake off those grisly details appearing again and again before my analytic thoughts.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO sold in Sweden 3.5 million copies – in a country with a population around 9 million. On and above, the late Larsson has gained a vast popularity in 41 countries and his trilogy (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST) has sold more than 20 million copies. Known to many, there are also rumours that Eva Gabrielsson actually contributed a great deal to the trilogy. Some associates of Larsson who have closely followed the author’s journalistic work have called the trilogy far too superior than his life-time professional work as a journalist. They believe that Larsson was not capable of writing these fame-earning, money-earning thrillers.

I am definitely going for Larsson’s other two books of his trilogy: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST. For your information, Stieg Larsson was the second best-selling author in the world 2008.

Geeta Chhabra


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