Sunday, October 25, 2009

Between the pages

I have read a couple of books lately that I really enjoyed, so I thought I'd share! While hubs and I were en route to NYC and back, I picked up a paperback - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I just grabbed it because it was a paperback, it was on the best seller list, and the cover art looked cool.

Anyway, I got started reading it, and I simply could not put it down. The novel is like a cross between a murder mystery, an epic tale about a successful business family, and a business/financial labyrinth, with a bit of love thrown in.

Here's the skinny: Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who has just been burned by a major expose that went wrong. As he recovers from the greatest setback of his career, Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, an aging business giant, to discover what became of his favorite niece, Harriet. (Harriet disappeared more than forty years ago. No body has ever been found, and no one has ever heard what became of her.)

For various reasons, Blomkvist takes the job. In his search, he pairs up with Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed punk computer prodigy. The two develop a relationship as they uncover clues to the old mystery.

Though there are certainly some parts of the book that were difficult to read (Blomkvist and Salander research a series of grisly murders), character development in this novel, particularly in the case of Salander, is amazing. The plot moves quickly and keeps the reader guessing as to the truth - suspects, motives, the lot.

I liked the book so much that, upon completing it, I went out and bought the sequel (now in hardback) - The Girl Who Played with Fire. The second book features both Blomkvist and Salander, but more of the latter than the former.

In book two, we learn much more about Salander, her history, and her motives. And though I wouldn't say that the end of book two leaves the reader hanging, there are certainly a few loose ends to be tied up.

That noted, I admit that the tale of the novels' author was another driving factor in my reading tear. From Wikipedia: Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist widely considered an expert on extreme right and racist organizations. He frequently wrote and spoke publicly against such movements. Because of his public position, he'd made some enemies in Sweden. As a result, he reportedly lived under death threats from his political enemies for years. Swedish law states that, to marry, one must have a public address on record, and Larsson was so against his address being made available that he did not marry his long-term companion, Eva Gabrielsson.

Apparently, Larsson worked as a journalist and speaker during the day, and he came home and wrote these books at night. His goal was to complete a series of 10 books. However, he had written three books before he even approached a publisher about having them printed. Once he'd had a contract written up and delivered the first three books, Larsson died. He died, at the age of 50, of a massive myocardial infarction (heart attack). He left behind the unfinished manuscript of the fourth novel and synopses of the fifth and sixth in the series.

Now, to me, the story of the novelist is nearly as interesting as that of the novels themselves. Who works all day, lives under the threat of death, then goes home at night and completes THREE ENTIRE BOOKS without a peep? Then, he just shows up at a publishing house, turns the three books over, then promptly dies? Utterly fascinating.

And what's also intriguing is the unfinished work. I will forever wonder what he would have written, what, say, the ninth book would have been about, had he lived to write it.

Regardless, I can vouch for the fact that the first two novels are thrilling page-turners and worth every word. I anxiously await installment three: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

No comments: