The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series #1) [NOOK Book]


Coming Soon: The New Book in the Millennium Series!

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago....
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series #1)

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Coming Soon: The New Book in the Millennium Series!

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A Selection of Barnes & Noble Recommends
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.

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.

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. --Lee Child

What a cracking novel! I haven't read such a stunning thriller debut for years…. Brilliantly written and totally gripping. --Minette Walters

"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)

Patrick Anderson
…this remarkable first novel by the Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson…has been a huge bestseller in Europe and will be one here if readers are looking for an intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller that is variously a serial-killer saga, a search for a missing person and an informed glimpse into the worlds of journalism and business…It's hard to find fault with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. One must struggle with bewildering Swedish names, but that's a small price to pay. The story starts off at a leisurely pace, but the reader soon surrenders to Larsson's skillful narrative. We care about his characters because we come to know them so well. The central question—what happened to Harriet?—is answered in due course, and other matters involving romance and revenge are wrapped up as well. It's a book that lingers in the mind.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson's first novel…It's Mr. Larsson's two protagonists—Carl Mikael Blomkvist, a reporter filling the role of detective, and his sidekick, Lisbeth Salander, a k a the girl with the dragon tattoo—who make this novel more than your run-of-the-mill mystery: they're both compelling, conflicted, complicated people, idiosyncratic in the extreme
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

With its rich characterizations and intriguing plot, the first book of the late Stieg Larsson's completed trilogy, involving disgraced Swedish journalist-publisher Mikael Blomkvist and the eponymous, pierced and tattooed, emotionally troubled young hacker-investigator Lisbeth Salander, clearly deserves the acclaim it's received overseas. Martin Wenner's almost indifferent, British-accented narration would seem an odd choice for a novel filled with passion, sex and violence, but as the oddly coupled Blomkvist and Salander probe the four-decade-old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, heiress to one of Sweden's wealthiest clans, the objective approach actually accentuates the extreme behavior of both and the strange subjects of their investigation. Wenner's calm, controlled manner aids the listener in keeping track of the numerous members of the Vanger family, a task that the printed book simplifies with a reference page. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, July 14). (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Ever since Knopf editor Sonny Mehta bought the U.S. rights last November, the prepublication buzz on this dark, moody crime thriller by a Swedish journalist has grown steadily. A best seller in Europe (it outsold the Bible in Denmark), this first entry in the "Millennium" trilogy finally lands in America. Is the hype justified? Yes. Despite a sometimes plodding translation and a few implausible details, this complex, multilayered tale, which combines an intricate financial thriller with an Agatha Christie-like locked-room mystery set on an island, grabs the reader from the first page. Convicted of libeling a prominent businessman and awaiting imprisonment, financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist agrees to industrialist Henrik Vanger's request to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of Vanger's 16-year-old niece, Harriet. In return, Vanger will help Blomkvist dig up dirt on the corrupt businessman. Assisting in Blomkvist's investigation is 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but enigmatic computer hacker. Punkish, tattooed, sullen, antisocial, and emotionally damaged, she is a compelling character, much like Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory, and this reviewer looks forward to learning more of her backstory in the next two books (The Girl Who Played with Fire and Castles in the Sky). Sweden may be the land of blondes, Ikea, and the Midnight Sun, but Larsson, who died in 2004, brilliantly exposes its dark heart: sexual violence against women, a Nazi past, and corporate corruption. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/03.]
—Wilda Williams

From the Publisher
"Wildly intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller." —The Washington Post

"Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson's first novel." —The New York Times

"Unique and fascinating.... It's like a blast of cold, fresh air to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." —Chicago Tribune

"A whip-smart heroine and a hunky guy who needs her help? This sexy, addictive thriller is everything you never knew you could get from a crime novel." —Glamour

The Barnes & Noble Review
Stieg Larsson's first murder mystery has been a smash hit throughout Europe since its 2005 publication in the author's native Sweden, and has now become a bestseller in the U.S. as well. But the bitter twist in Larsson's success story is that he didn't live to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo published: he died of a heart attack just after he delivered the manuscripts for this book and the two that follow. When the most shocking corpse in the drawing room turns out to be the 50-year-old author's, the thrills of crime fiction can take a melancholy turn. But let's try, for the moment, to evaluate Larsson's novel apart from its ill-fated provenance. What is it that's generating so much enthusiasm from a gobsmacked international audience?

The eccentric sidekick is nearly as familiar a genre convention as the lonely private eye, and Larsson, who was an eager student of the canon, dreamed up a fairly irresistible one. She is Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo; and although she doesn't meet her partner-in-crime-solving until more than halfway through the novel, the reader connects with her right away. In fact, the book sprang to life for me at a precise moment on page 32 with the introduction of Salander, a goth wild child and a delightfully unlikely heroine.

"She was the very quintessence of difficult," thinks Salander's boss at the staid private-security firm where she works as a researcher. Whip-thin, abundantly tattooed and pierced, her dyed hair "as short as a fuse," Salander skulks through the corridors like a feral club kid. She has a gift for annoying the other employees, some of whom suspect she might be retarded. In fact Salander, who is 24 years old but looks 14, is an investigative savant, a high school dropout with freakishly superior computer skills who refuses to reveal her information sources and whose work methods are, to say the least, unorthodox.

One of the people Salander has recently investigated is Mikael Blomkvist, a well-known financial reporter and part owner of a muckraking magazine called Millennium . According to her report, Blomkvist is "a public person with few secrets and not very much to hide." Yet readers will find him to be a multi-dimensional and urgent figure, driven by an angry social conscience to expose the unchecked corruption that's rotting the top tiers of Swedish high finance. And he's just as angry about the cowardice of some of his journalist colleagues, who treat CEOs like rock stars and neglect to go after "the sharks who created interest crises and speculated away the savings of small investors." Moody, droll, and often surprisingly gentle, Blomkvist is not the only journalist-turned-sleuth in the mystery world -- other contemporary crime novels, by writers like Denise Mina, Denise Hamilton, Val McDermid, and Liza Marklund, feature reporters as protagonists -- but he is certainly one of the most engaging.

Both Blomkvist and the magazine are on the verge of bankruptcy after his humiliating defeat in a libel case, brought against him by a powerful industrialist named Hans-Erik Wennerström. Needing time to lick his wounds, Blomkvist decides to accept an offer to spend a year looking into an unsolved mystery that occurred 40 years ago on an island near a small industrial town called Hedestad, three hours north of Stockholm.

The offer comes from Henrik Vanger, octogenarian patriarch of a once-renowned family corporation whose influence is on the wane. What haunts the old man is the long-ago disappearance of his beloved grandniece, Harriet, when she a teenager.

Convinced she was murdered, Vanger dangles two incentives in front of Blomkvist to persuade him to re-investigate this very cold case: a large sum of money, and some irreparably damaging information about his vengeful enemy Wennerström.

The Vanger family, as Blomkvist quickly learns, is a large, contentious clan whose members mostly detest one another. Their closets are crammed with skeletons, including Nazi party affiliations, domestic-violence incidents, and an alcohol-related drowning. Many of them lived on or near the family's island compound at the time of Harriet's disappearance in 1966 and still live there today. What made Harriet's vanishing so confounding was that it occurred when the island was closed off by a dramatic oil-truck accident on the single bridge into Hedestad, making it, as Blomkvist notes in a nod to the classic whodunit writer Dorothy Sayers, "a sort of locked-room mystery in island format." Though search parties repeatedly explored every inch of the island and coastline, no trace of the girl was ever found.

As soon as Blomkvist manages to turn up some new evidence, Salander is brought in by her security firm to be his research assistant, and up ratchets the action: the cold case turns hot, the chilly northern landscape goes from blanc to noir, and the Vanger family secrets begin to tumble. As they try to make sense of a situation that now threatens their lives, Salander and Blomkvist make a most unlikely duo -- the methodical journalist and the unscrupulous hacker, the social conscience and the antisocial anarchist, the saddened older warrior and the furious young hellcat -- but their partnership, in its peculiarity, is all the charm and fire of this novel.

As a first-time crime novelist, Larsson was smart enough to figure out that much success depends on an artful juggle between giving information about his protagonists and withholding it. He plays this game well, offering tantalizing hints about, say, Salander's childhood or Blomkvist's failed marriage. The crucial puzzle in any first-rate novel, as Larsson understood, is the puzzle of human nature, and it's the richness of that mystery, more than the intricacies of its plot or the sophistication of its milieu, that powers this book. --Donna Rofkind

Donna Rifkind's reviews appear frequently in The Washington Post Book World and the Los Angeles Times. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, The American Scholar, and other publications. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307272119
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/16/2008
  • Series: Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series, #1
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 10,298
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson was the editor in chief of the magazine Expo. He was a leading expert on anti-democratic, right-wing extremist organizations. He died in 2004, soon after delivering the manuscripts of the novels The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland.


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 his Millennium thrillers, 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 Millennium novels -- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and Castles in the Sky (working English title) -- just for fun. 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. He left behind the unfinished manuscript for a fourth book in the series.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      August 15, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Västerbotten, Sweden
    1. Date of Death:
      November 9, 2004
    2. Place of Death:
      Stockholm, Sweden

Read an Excerpt

A Friday in NovemberIt happened every year, was almost a ritual. And this was his eighty-second birthday. When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up the telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morell who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dalarna. They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day–which was something of an irony under the circumstances. The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.“It arrived.”“What is it this year?”“I don’t know what kind it is. I’ll have to get someone to tell me what it is. It’s white.”“No letter, I suppose.”“Just the flower. The frame is the same kind as last year. One of those do-it-yourself ones.”“Postmark?”“Stockholm.”“Handwriting?”“Same as always, all in capitals. Upright, neat lettering.”With that, the subject was exhausted, and not another word was exchanged for almost a minute. The retired policeman leaned back in his kitchen chair and drew on his pipe. He knew he was no longer expected to come up with a pithy comment or any sharp question which would shed a new light on the case. Those days had long since passed, and the exchange between the two men seemed like a ritual attaching to a mystery which no-one else in the whole world had the least interest in unravelling.The Latin name was Leptospermum (Myrtaceae) rubinette. It was a plant about ten centimetres high with small, heather-like foliage and a white flower with five petals about two centimetres across.The plant was native to the Australian bush and uplands, where it was to be found among tussocks of grass. There it was called Desert Snow. Someone at the botanical gardens in Uppsala would later confirm that it was a plant seldom cultivated in Sweden. The botanist wrote in her report that it was related to the tea tree and that it was sometimes confused with its more common cousin Leptospermum scoparium, which grew in abundance in New Zealand. What distinguished them, she pointed out, was that rubinette had a small number of microscopic pink dots at the tips of the petals, giving the flower a faint pinkish tinge.Rubinette was altogether an unpretentious flower. It had no known medicinal properties, and it could not induce hallucinatory experiences. It was neither edible, nor had a use in the manufacture of plant dyes. On the other hand, the aboriginal people of Australia regarded as sacred the region and the flora around Ayers Rock.The botanist said that she herself had never seen one before, but after consulting her colleagues she was to report that attempts had been made to introduce the plant at a nursery in Göteborg, and that it might, of course, be cultivated by amateur botanists. It was difficult to grow in Sweden because it thrived in a dry climate and had to remain indoors half of the year. It would not thrive in calcareous soil and it had to be watered from below. It needed pampering.The fact of its being so rare a flower ought to have made it easier to trace the source of this particular specimen, but in practice it was an impossible task. There was no registry to look it up in, no licences to explore. Anywhere from a handful to a few hundred enthusiasts could have had access to seeds or plants. And those could have changed hands between friends or been bought by mail order from anywhere in Europe, anywhere in the Antipodes.But it was only one in the series of mystifying flowers that each year arrived by post on the first day of November. They were always beautiful and for the most part rare flowers, always pressed, mounted on watercolour paper in a simple frame measuring 15cm by 28cm.The strange story of the flowers had never been reported in the press; only a very few people knew of it. Thirty years ago the regular arrival of the flower was the object of much scrutiny–at the National Forensic Laboratory, among fingerprint experts, graphologists, criminal investigators, and one or two relatives and friends of the recipient. Now the actors in the drama were but three: the elderly birthday boy, the retired police detective, and the person who had posted the flower. The first two at least had reached such an age that the group of interested parties would soon be further diminished.The policeman was a hardened veteran. He would never forget his first case, in which he had had to take into custody a violent and appallingly drunk worker at an electrical substation before he caused others harm. During his career he had brought in poachers, wife beaters, con men, car thieves, and drunk drivers. He had dealt with burglars, drug dealers, rapists, and one deranged bomber. He had been involved in nine murder or manslaughter cases. In five of these the murderer had called the police himself and, full of remorse, confessed to having killed his wife or brother or some other relative. Two others were solved within a few days. Another required the assistance of the National Criminal Police and took two years.The ninth case was solved to the police’s satisfaction, which is to say that they knew who the murderer was, but because the evidence was so insubstantial the public prosecutor decided not to proceed with the case. To the detective superintendent’s dismay, the statute of limitations eventually put an end to the matter. But all in all he could look back on an impressive career.He was anything but pleased.For the detective, the “Case of the Pressed Flowers” had been nagging at him for years–his last, unsolved and frustrating case. The situation was doubly absurd because after spending literally thousands of hours brooding, on duty and off, he could not say beyond doubt that a crime had indeed been committed.The two men knew that whoever had mounted the flowers would have worn gloves, that there would be no fingerprints on the frame or the glass. The frame could have been bought in camera shops or stationery stores the world over. There was, quite simply, no lead to follow. Most often the parcel was posted in Stockholm, but three times from London, twice from Paris, twice from Copenhagen, once from Madrid, once from Bonn, and once from Pensacola, Florida. The detective superintendent had had to look it up in an atlas.After putting down the telephone the eighty-two-year-old birthday boy sat for a long time looking at the pretty but meaningless flower whose name he did not yet know. Then he looked up at the wall above his desk. There hung forty-three pressed flowers in their frames. Four rows of ten, and one at the bottom with four. In the top row one was missing from the ninth slot. Desert Snow would be number forty-four.Without warning he began to weep. He surprised himself with this sudden burst of emotion after almost forty years.Friday, December 20   The trial was irretrievably over; everything that could be said had been said, but he had never doubted that he would lose. The written verdict was handed down at 10:00 on Friday morning, and all that remained was a summing up from the reporters waiting in the corridor outside the district court.   Carl Mikael Blomkvist saw them through the doorway and slowed his step. He had no wish to discuss the verdict, but questions were unavoidable, and he—of all people—knew that they had to be asked and answered. This is how it is to be a criminal, he thought. On the other side of the microphone. He straightened up and tried to smile. The reporters gave him friendly, almost embarrassed greetings.   "Let's see . . . Aftonbladet, Expressen, TT wire service, TV4, and . . . where are you from? . . . ah yes, Dagens Nyheter. I must be a celebrity," Blomkvist said.   "Give us a sound bite, Kalle Blomkvist." It was a reporter from one of the evening papers.   Blomkvist, hearing the nickname, forced himself as always not to roll his eyes. Once, when he was twenty-three and had just started his first summer job as a journalist, Blomkvist had chanced upon a gang which had pulled off five bank robberies over the past two years. There was no doubt that it was the same gang in every instance. Their trademark was to hold up two banks at a time with military precision. They wore masks from Disney World, so inevitably police logic dubbed them the Donald Duck Gang. The newspapers renamed them the Bear Gang, which sounded more sinister, more appropriate to the fact that on two occasions they had recklessly fired warning shots and threatened curious passersby.   Their sixth outing was at a bank in Östergötland at the height of the holiday season. A reporter from the local radio station happened to be in the bank at the time. As soon as the robbers were gone he went to a public telephone and dictated his story for live broadcast.   Blomkvist was spending several days with a girlfriend at her parents' summer cabin near Katrineholm. Exactly why he made the connection he could not explain, even to the police, but as he was listening to the news report he remembered a group of four men in a summer cabin a few hundred feet down the road. He had seen them playing badminton out in the yard: four blond, athletic types in shorts with their shirts off. They were obviously bodybuilders, and there had been something about them that had made him look twice—maybe it was because the game was being played in blazing sunshine with what he recognised as intensely focused energy.   There had been no good reason to suspect them of being the bank robbers, but nevertheless he had gone to a hill overlooking their cabin. It seemed empty. It was about forty minutes before a Volvo drove up and parked in the yard. The young men got out, in a hurry, and were each carrying a sports bag, so they might have been doing nothing more than coming back from a swim. But one of them returned to the car and took out from the boot something which he hurriedly covered with his jacket. Even from Blomkvist's relatively distant observation post he could tell that it was a good old AK4, the rifle that had been his constant companion for the year of his military service.   He called the police and that was the start of a three-day siege of the cabin, blanket coverage by the media, with Blomkvist in a front-row seat and collecting a gratifyingly large fee from an evening paper. The police set up their headquarters in a caravan in the garden of the cabin where Blomkvist was staying.   The fall of the Bear Gang gave him the star billing that launched him as a young journalist. The downside of his celebrity was that the other evening newspaper could not resist using the headline "Kalle Blomkvist solves the case." The tongue-in-cheek story was written by an older female columnist and contained references to the young detective in Astrid Lindgren's books for children. To make matters worse, the paper had run the story with a grainy photograph of Blomkvist with his mouth half open even as he raised an index finger to point.   It made no difference that Blomkvist had never in life used the name Carl. From that moment on, to his dismay, he was nicknamed Kalle Blomkvist by his peers—an epithet employed with taunting provocation, not unfriendly but not really friendly either. In spite of his respect for Astrid Lindgren—whose books he loved—he detested the nickname. It took him several years and far weightier journalistic successes before the nickname began to fade, but he still cringed if ever the name was used in his hearing.   Right now he achieved a placid smile and said to the reporter from the evening paper: "Oh come on, think of something yourself. You usually do."   His tone was not unpleasant. They all knew each other, more or less, and Blomkvist's most vicious critics had not come that morning. One of the journalists there had at one time worked with him. And at a party some years ago he had nearly succeeded in picking up one of the reporters—the woman from She on TV4.   "You took a real hit in there today," said the one from Dagens Nyheter, clearly a young part-timer. "How does it feel?"   Despite the seriousness of the situation, neither Blomkvist nor the older journalists could help smiling. He exchanged glances with TV4. How does it feel? The half-witted sports reporter shoves his microphone in the face of the Breathless Athlete on the finishing line.   "I can only regret that the court did not come to a different conclusion," he said a bit stuffily.   "Three months in gaol and 150,000 kronor damages. That's pretty severe," said She from TV4.   "I'll survive."   "Are you going to apologise to Wennerström? Shake his hand?"   "I think not."   "So you still would say that he's a crook?" Dagens Nyheter.   The court had just ruled that Blomkvist had libelled and defamed the financier Hans-Erik Wennerström. The trial was over and he had no plans to appeal. So what would happen if he repeated his claim on the courthouse steps? Blomkvist decided that he did not want to find out.   "I thought I had good reason to publish the information that was in my possession. The court has ruled otherwise, and I must accept that the judicial process has taken its course. Those of us on the editorial staff will have to discuss the judgement before we decide what we're going to do. I have no more to add."   "But how did you come to forget that journalists actually have to back up their assertions?" She from TV4. Her expression was neutral, but Blomkvist thought he saw a hint of disappointed repudiation in her eyes.   The reporters on site, apart from the boy from Dagens Nyheter, were all veterans in the business. For them the answer to that question was beyond the conceivable. "I have nothing to add," he repeated, but when the others had accepted this TV4 stood him against the doors to the courthouse and asked her questions in front of the camera. She was kinder than he deserved, and there were enough clear answers to satisfy all the reporters still standing behind her. The story would be in the headlines but he reminded himself that they were not dealing with the media event of the year here. The reporters had what they needed and headed back to their respective newsrooms.  

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion
1. Careful observation is the foundation of any successful journalist's or private investigator's career. Discuss how the various characters' outward appearance aligned with their true personality in this novel.

2. Lisbeth Salander's character is enigmatic and antisocial throughout much of the book. What do you see as the catalyst for the slow emergence of her personality?

3. Lisbeth judges everyone harshly, including herself. What do you think of her assessment of Blomkvist?

4. While poverty, social injustice, parental abuse, and difficult childhoods are often cited as explanations for criminal behavior, Lisbeth believes in free will and choice. Do you agree?

5. What propels Blomkvist to lay aside his professional ethics and take on the investigation proposed by Vanger?

6. The relationship between Blomkvist and Cecilia is fraught from the beginning. How does Cecilia come to terms with it? What do you think about her decision?

7. How successfully does Larsson develop Lisbeth's connection to her mother? Is there anything about their relationship that helps shed light on Lisbeth's behavior?

8. Were you surprised by the book's portrayal of right-wing fanaticism and violence against women in a country known for its liberal views?

9. Which character's duplicity -- or innocence -- did you find the most unexpected? Which one emerged as your favorite?

10. Discuss Mikael Blomkvist's role in the investigation. Do you feel that he made as important a contribution as Lisbeth? Why or why not?

11. The narrative contained a number of plot twists. Who did you imagine sent the framed flowers to Vanger each year?

Further Reading
The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell
The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson
Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17154 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 17304 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2009


    I was given this book as a gift and had to force my way through it. Unlike some I did not have trouble with the characters I just did not like the story. I for one do NOT appreciate reading about violence against women especially in a VERY graphic manner. If it is vital to the story its one thing but I found some of it completely unnecessary. It was very slow and had to force myself to finish it. And just when I thought things were getting ended with a thud. Do not waste your money!

    164 out of 314 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Superb writing

    I've seen some complaints that it is too slow. To that I say, it's because of realism. Having done some investigative reporting stuff myself, I can say that the pace at which it starts into its mystery is completely believable. And the methods used as well. Is it a little slow in the first half? Yeah, but is that a bad thing? No. It's attention to detail and characterization, and a commitment to realism. And that's nothing to complain about.

    I've seen some opinions about the violence, and I didn't think it was overly graphic... nor without a point. I can't stand graphic violence with little to no point. But by the time you get to the end of the first book, at least for me anyway, I found myself fully appreciating his tackling this issue of violence against women in Sweden. And I finally both fully understood and appreciated the statistics regarding crimes against women that were inserted at the beginning of each new Part of the book. It seemed clear to me that Larrson wanted to let people know what life in Sweden can be like for a woman, and having no frame of reference to such before reading the book I found myself respecting Larrson for making this his main drive and theme of the story.

    I don't know... I can't complain. I think this is some of the best published writing I've read in a long time. I was never bored or disinterested. He kept me captivated from start to finish.

    My only complaint is that it's a little more vulgar and perverse than I usually care for. But even at that, he could have been much more perverse with as much promiscuity some of his characters indulged in; yet he often used the old school film method of setting the implication (or starting the process) and moving on to something else. Something with plot, something with character. Something we could care about.

    I just need to get the second in the series now, so I can pick up where it left off. OH, which reminds me, somebody said something about the end being a dud and that's said. It's called leaving loose ends, because it's a series and you want to keep your readers with you. If you resolve everything and walk away people won't come back--having been fully satisfied. My only hope is that the third (and final book he completed) has some full resolve or that they finally let his life-long companion finish his fourth one--which he was working on when he died.

    It really is a shame he left so early and that his works couldn't have been written and published earlier in life. It's reported he had 10 books in the series in mind. I guess we'll just have to make do with what he gave us.

    100 out of 116 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book!

    Once you get through the first quarter of the book its awesome! I usually put books down if they dont have me hooked by the first 3 pages but I read reviews and knew that the beginning was a bit slow so I kept at it and I'm so glad I did! I just finished the last in the series (The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet's Nest) and I was on the edge of my seat with all 3 books!!!

    96 out of 120 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is book is neither bloated nor overblown and it's absolutely wonderful that there are so many characters; it creates a rich reading experience. And besides, there is a family tree one can refer to. This book is highly interesting and engaging. I found that after the first couple of character introductory chapters that the mystery to be solved kept me wanting to keep reading! I enjoyed the complexity of the plot and enjoyed that Larsson takes his time and presents a story with depth. If you want a fast moving book filled with action this book isn't for you. But if you want a thoughtful book that deals with moral issues, has two very interestingly different protagonists (Blomkvist and Salander), has a humdinger of a mystery and yes, does have some intense action, then pick up a copy today!!

    72 out of 79 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    Can't put it down!

    I am not sure of the age or intelligence of some of these reviewers but this is not a 5th grade read. You do need some intelligence and a very general knowledge of European culture to appreciate this book. The first 100 pages were not slow. They were used to clearly describe each character, their past, their occupation, their life, their sexual preferences so you gain an appreciation for their motives and behaviors as the story picks up. Just because the first 100 pages were not action packed does not mean they were boring or unecessary.

    Clearly some reviewers are just looking for lame action packed writing. This book is so much more and so much better. I am still not finished but find it hard to put down at night when I am falling asleep. The book involves a lot more sex and violence than I had expected but it fits perfectly and reaffirms the tenedencies of the characters. I am anxious for the conclusion and cannot wait to read the next two books in the trilogy.

    I definitely recomend this for any intelligent person who is not just looking for meaningless lame 'action-writing'.

    63 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010


    I was very reluctant to purchase this book based on the negative reviews, but a book that gets this much hype must be read despite reviews both positive and negative. I actually enjoyed the book. Yes it was long. No it didn't need to be that long to get to the point, but I liked the character development. I liked that I got to know the characters really really well. I like Salander and think that she's a very interesting person indeed. As for the mystery of the book. It got intense and then slowed down again to finish of the whole Wennersom affair which was also an interesting aspect of the book as well. All in all the book is worth reading. I'm thinking the others in the sequence will be just as good or better. I'm interested in learning more about Salander and Blomkavist as well!

    30 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful- the best thriller/mystery of 2008

    This book is by a Swedish author and only recently published in the United States. It was great reading about Sweden from the Swedish perspective. Goes to show the that universal themes are always interesting - the main character Mikael "Bear" Blomkvist is hired to solve and/or write about the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, a daughter of a very wealthy family. She disappeared 40 years ago. Since Blomkvist is temporarily unemployed due to a financial reporting scandal, he takes the job. During his investigation he runs into Lizbeth Salandar a mysterious punk computer expert. Sounds like a romantic thriller? Well you are in for a rollercoaster ride of intrigue, secrets, an inditement of the Swedish mental health system and what is is like to live on the edge. Great book

    27 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great read!

    This was a good read for someone who likes suspense, romance, and crazy families. If you like to be a fly on the wall and listen in on people's conversations to learn all of their deep dark secrets, this could also be your book! There was a lot of nonsense material in the book, where I can see some good editing could do away with about 100 pages without harming the overall story line. If you can get past the wordiness, the plot is thick and the bizarre turns make it hard to put it down. Enjoy :)

    20 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dark novel. The main characters are complicated but likable. If you try to think one step ahead of Salander forget it. She is dark, cynical, odd, and smart,I could go on but if you are interested in meeting her you must read this novel. It took me a while to get into it but when I did I could not put it down. Can't wait to read the next in the trilogy.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    First Mystery

    I dont ever read mystery novels but i thought i would give this one a try and i loved every second of it. I would sit there reading for hours on end and into the night and through the morning. I had to keep reading because i wanted to know what happened next but also because i was scared at times to fall asleep. The book isnt dark or extremely scary but the thrill and the thought process make it a hard book to fall asleep with. I will definitely be reading the next two.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    You got to be kidding.

    Do you like intergenerational sex, rape, murder, or sadism?

    Do you have a disregard for women?

    Perhaps you like unnecessaary plot lines and narrative. Excess chapters?

    If so, This is the book for you. (Find something else to read.)

    14 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2009

    A Book That Caught My Eye and My Interest

    I was just at the airport picking out a book to bring with me on the plane to read. I was in a rush to catch the plane. I walked over to the "Bestselling" shelf and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" By Stieg Larson, caught my eye. I quickly skimmed through the blurb; without a second thought,I bought the book, not knowing that it would leave me with such interest and would be placed in my top 20 all time favorite books. At first, the book may start off with no connection between the characters and may seem like a downer. But as soon as it gets to the point. It is the most thrilling, suspensful book that could leave you in awe.

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Slow start, but a great book

    I put this book down at least a dozen times trying to get through the first few chapters, but I perservered and then I couldn't put it down. It was definitely offbeat, watching it unfold and wondering how all the characters came together was exciting. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a book that makes you think.

    14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2011

    I Also Recommend:


    This was quite a good book. Very suspenseful with great intricate plot. enjoyed it

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    This Compelling Fiction involving caustic family secrets, grisly serial killings, horrendous business miss-dealings on a grand scale and much more provide a complex plot.

    Journalist Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative business journalist and co-owner of a magazine called, "Millennium", has just lost his reputation, his savings and his freedom after a nasty libel suit from an executive named Wennerström. His magazine lost its credibility and is on the road to lose everything.
    Eventually he makes a breakthrough and needs a good researcher, where Lisbeth Salander, a severe, petite, anorexic-looking, punk-dressing, tattooed genius investigator appears on the scene. Blomqvist's perceptiveness takes hold and Salander's edgy brilliance shines. He spots talents that Salander has kept secret all her life. As Salander lets some of her defenses down, a partnership develops that allows intense deduction and intuition, working up to a nail-biting conclusion that initiates a new set of problems to be faced in the second book, "The Girl Who Played with Fire".
    I found myself holding my breath a lot throughout this book! Whew! I recommend highly if you like to sit on the edge of your seat while you read! Great writing style, engaging plot, many complex layers, many unexpected twists, fascinating, NOT BORING characters, and much more!

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2009

    Wish I'd known the Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women--if (and only if) you enjoy graphic rape scenes, this is the book for you

    I found this book to be brutal, disturbing, and overly long. I will admit that the central mystery was engaging, which is why I got sucked in and finished even though I was very troubled by multiple incidents leading up to the big reveal. I found the resolution of that mystery to be truly sick--as mortifying as many other horrors committed in this novel. While I did appreciate the strength of the titular heroine, I can't imagine anyone enjoying this novel unless they find violence against women to be entertaining.

    In addition to my sheer disgust at the atrocities against women throughout this book (which I still am sickened by days later!), I found the other plot lines to be anticlimactic, even unnecessary. And I wish that the translator had included some footnotes or a forward giving background for the many allusions to Swedish culture, politics, and finance.

    11 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010


    For originality alone, this book stands tall. The plot, the writing, the characters intertwine to tell a very intriguing story. It didn't drag at all and the ending really caught me off guard. Won't give away the story. This is good, very good. On to his next book in the trilogy.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Discovery

    I saw this book on the bestseller list in Barnes and Noble as well as in the NY Times and decided to give it a shot. I really liked it! Although it may seem at the beginning that you read about all these characters with no apparent relation to each other, it all develops into an intricate web of lies, deceit and basically everything that can go bad when money and power are involved.<BR/>It may be Harriet Vanger's disappearance that Mikael Blomkvist has to solve but along the way he finds out more than what he bargained for!

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Suspense Abounds

    This is a seriously suspensful read. It was difficult to get into in the beginning, but once the storyline is established you won't put it down. This is definitely somewhat of a dark thriller, and may offend certain readers at times. However, the plot is interesting and different, and keeps your attention well. It would be fascinating to use this book as a choice for a book club and really analyze the characters and themes presented. I found the character of Blomkvist to be well developed and relatable in many ways. I also enjoyed the imagery created by the author. I would absolutely recommend this book to others, and look forward to reading the next two novels by this author.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A delicious and addictive read! Loved it.

    After getting through the first sections of the book (all the financial/legal/business talk before I knew what I was reading or about to read), I ate this book up! It's a page-turner for sure. Impossible to put down.
    Larsson's writing style is perfection for this type of novel. His attention to detail and how he presents these details is brilliant. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the mystery plot, as well as the characters. Lisbeth's actions are at times puzzling, but Larsson does a great job making the reader understand why she makes the unorthodox choices that she does, and what she has to deal with in regards to her social disorder.
    The suspense is perfectly balanced with the character work and the vivid scenery and backdrop of the novel. I couldn't WAIT to find out what what going to happen, but I didn't want it to end.
    I look forward to reading The Girl Who Played with Fire!

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 17304 Customer Reviews

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