Last week was wonderful…. My column “The Bibliophile” finally makes its debut (successfully, i might add, so thank you to all those who stopped by to read), someone says it rhymes with pedophile… now that I think about it, it does, but THERE IS A HUGE DISPARITY, …. Add to that an Arsenal win and a Spurs loss, and, to quote the great warrior-poet Ice Cube, “I have to say it was a good week”.
So I finished reading the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by the late Stieg Larsson (no relation to Henrik Larsson). It’s the first novel off the Millennium Trilogy. Apparently it was written in Swedish, the original title is Man som hatar kvinnor…. I can just imagine people biting their tongues trying to pronounce this…
So, back to the story at hand…
We have an amateur detective teaming up with Lisbeth Salander who kind of reminds me of George of the Famous Five (Enid Blyton, what would children fiction be without her) to investigate the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl who disappeared 40-years ago. The novel draws up the old locked-room mystery scenario. Throw in some romance; mix it up with a 007 styled car-chase…. A lil bit of hacking for all you techno-geeks and we have a novel for everyone.
The story revolves around the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. We are introduced to Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter who has just been convicted of libel. The penalty, he’s to spend 3 months in jail and to pay a fine of 150,000SEK… that’s about N1.5million, talk about “gbese”… Facing financial ruin, he’s offered a lifeline by Henrik Vanger. As with every lifeline, there’s a catch: he must investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. In return he will be offered 4.8million SEK if he succeeds and all the information he needs to overturn his libel case. He enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander, a bright investigator with authority issues.
In my first article, “WHAT MAKES A GOOD READ?” I laid emphasis on characters being a prerequisite for a great novel. Larsson does that excellently well. The character development in this novel was superb, especially that of Lisbeth Salander. She isn’t the conventional female heroine. She is bright but not to the extent of being geeky. She’s like the female version of Mick Jagger with tattoos and the punk hairstyle. She has this volatile air around her, like she is waiting to explode. She has been hurt before and it shows in many of the decisions she makes. The character of Mikael Blomkvist is no less exciting. Both characters form an unlikely pair…. There is a tsunami of emotions surrounding them. Larsson does excellently well in capturing that.
The novel is set in Sweden. I know little about Sweden apart from it being the home country of Abba (If u are reading this, I want my Mamma Mia OST back, u know urself). Larsson does well in describing the area geographically. The English translation of “Man som hatar kvinnor” is “Men who hate Women”. Larsson does a lot in raising awareness about gender issues in Sweden backing them up with terrifying statistics at the beginning of each chapter… Forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man … Thirteen percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship.
The author ignores one of the basic tenets of fiction…. When you come to the end of a novel, please STOP! After solving the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger which for me is the main storyline, he gets side-tracked into resolving the whole financial intrigue surrounding Mikael. The way he resolves it leaves one feeling disappointed and empty. It would have been better if he had just focused on the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance.
The novel is well detailed, a lil bit too much if you ask me. Some things are better left to the reader’s imagination.
There are long stretches were nothing happens and one might feel tempted to drop the book, but the novel picks up just as you are about to drop it. The author was obviously obsessed with Apple computers and products…. At some point, the novel felt like a commercial.
In summary, the novel probably won’t win any prizes but it’s a good addition to anyone’s library. I will read the sequel, only because I want to find out what happens to Lisbeth Salander.
You can get this book for N3950 at the Glendora Bookshop (Shop C4; Falomo Shopping Centre; Awolowo Road; Ikoyi.)… See free advert, yet these people still won’t give me discount. 🙁
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