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Our Reader's Guide to The Girl with the Dragon TattooBestselling International Sensation and a Thriller You'll Never Forget
An engrossing debut thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been an international sensation, a bestseller in its native Sweden and throughout Europe. It features an unforgettable heroine: a brilliant 24-year-old punk-goth computer hacker and private investigator named Lisbeth Salander. Together with Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist on a most unusual assignment, she tracks a serial killer through a dangerous maze of business, political, and family secrets.
The intricate tale begins when Blomkvist is convicted of libeling top Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Unable to prove his innocence, Blomkvist prepares to leave his position at Millennium, the magazine he co-founded, now financially threatened by the verdict. But a summons from Wennerström's rival, the aging tycoon Henrik Vanger, presents an option he couldn't have imagined: In exchange for Blomkvist's writing the Vanger family history, Vanger promises to back Millennium financially and deliver incriminating evidence of Wennerström's crooked dealings.
But that's not all. The closets of the Vanger clan are littered with skeletons, and his new patron wants Blomkvist to set one at rest: the disappearance, 40 years ago, of Vanger's 16-year-old grandniece, Harriet. Intrigued by the cold case that was never solved despite multiple investigations, Blomkvist begins to dig for new evidence on an island north of Stockholm.
He is soon joined by Salander, a freelance investigator originally hired by Vanger to vet Blomkvist's reputation. Multiple piercings and tattoos are belied by the young computer genius's photographic memory. A victim of assault and harrowing abuse, Salander is driven by a relentless will and an astonishing capability for merciless retribution.
Larsson's narrative unfolds with mounting suspense, detailing the duo's intellectual ingenuity and increasing courage as they expose hidden cultures of right-wing fanaticism and misogyny and reveal the moral bankruptcy of big capital. As they race across Europe and on to Australia to trap their prey before another woman is tortured and killed, the reader is held in breathless anticipation until the novel's unforeseen conclusion. Read an Excerpt
"You see, Harriet was very special. She was introverted—like her brother—and as a teenager she became wrapped up in religion, unlike anyone else in the family. But she had a clear talent and she was tremendously intelligent. She had both morals and backbone. When she was fourteen or fifteen I was convinced she was the one—and not her brother or any of the mediocre cousins, nephews, and nieces around me—who was destined to run the Vanger business one day, or at least play a central role in it."
"So what happened?"
"Now we come to the real reason I want to hire you. I want to find out who in the family murdered Harriet, and who since then has spent almost 40 years trying to drive me insane."
—from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Download the PDF version of our Reader's Guide
.About the Author
Born in Västerbotten in northern Sweden in 1954, Stieg Larsson had a professional career that bears a striking resemblance to that of the protagonist of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist. Beginning as a graphic designer for the news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT), Larsson went on to become the chief editor of Expo, the magazine published by the Expo Foundation, an organization he helped establish in 1995 to combat racism and the Swedish right-wing extremist movement.
Inspired by an old joke shared with a colleague at TT, Larsson admitted he started writing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at night just for fun. Two other novels, completing the Millennium trilogy, would follow. Describing them as "pension insurance," Larsson said he enjoyed the process of fiction writing so much that he didn't make contact with a publisher until he had completed the first two and had a third under way. Though Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004 and never saw any of his books in print, all three were subsequently published in Scandinavia and continental Europe to great acclaim.
Books two and three in the Millenium trilogy are slated for U.S. publication by Knopf, and the series will be adapted for film by the Swedish production company Yellow Bird, beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2009.
Get the most out of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with these reading group discussion questions:
Praise for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
FROM OUR BOOKSELLERS
"Refreshingly intelligent, this fast-paced mystery draws together an odd cast of underdog journalists, secretive industrialists, and a punk hacker with Asperger's to create the strangest—and best—thriller of the year, if not decade. A must-read."
—James Tardif, Ellicott City, MD
"An old-fashioned secluded island murder mystery, updated with complex characters and new technology…. Like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple meet Cold Case. Powerful, thrilling, and disturbing."
—Jill Borage, St. Louis, MO
"This gritty thriller is packed with deceit, treachery, and plenty of dirty family secrets—enough to fill an entire basement with skeletons."
—Elayne Carringer, Devon, PA
"Gripping! I even read at stop lights and while I was brushing my teeth."
—Sarah Goodrich, Lexington, KY
FROM WRITERS AND REVIEWERS
"As vivid as bloodstains on snow—and a perfect one-volume introduction to the unique strengths of Scandinavian crime fiction."
"What a cracking novel! I haven't read such a stunning thriller debut for years…. Brilliantly written and totally gripping."
"The ballyhoo is fully justified…. At over 500 pages this hardly sagged…. The novel scores on every front—character, story, atmosphere."
—The Times [London]
"A publishing sensation…. Crime fiction has seldom needed to salute and mourn such a stellar talent as Larsson's in the same breath."
—Sunday Times [London]
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