Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (U.S. 2008)

Jumping on the bandwagon is no fun. I prefer being a contrarian myself. But sometimes there’s no choice. You’ve got to join the choir and sing your hosannas with everyone else.

The drumbeat for this debut novel started last year. No doubt the author’s personal story contributed to the buzz: a crusading Swedish journalist delivers manuscripts for three interconnected books shortly before dying of a heart attack at age 50.

The first installment justifies the hype. It is, in a word, bewitching, thanks to an alchemy of setting (Stockholm and the frigid reaches north), character (a disgraced journalist and the investigator of the title, an enigmatic and damaged ward of the state) and story (a 40-year old locked-room mystery set on an island that ultimately encompasses crimes of the boardroom and of the heart). Nearly 500 pages, read in a flash. The next book can’t come fast enough.