When I started reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I couldn’t help but notice the number of reviews on the book jacket that compared Tattoo to the work of Ingmar Bergman. It’s as if Bergman is the only point of cultural reference a non-Swede could make. Strikes me as lazy, because after downing six hundred pages of this modern crime novel, I can’t think of anything even remotely Bergman-esque about Dragon Tattoo. Dark, brooding, and artsy this book is not. Interestingly within the book itself, Larsson name drops IKEA several times, and for me, if you need to compare the book to something Swedish, IKEA works pretty well. The writing of the book is clean-lined, well put together, crisp and easy to read. It’s a far cry from the murky, confused depths of Persona. It’s a page-turner that goes down smoothly.
Dragon Tattoo focuses on Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist taking aim at the corporate world and Lisbeth Salander , a tattooed, computer-hacker punk , who team up to uncover a decades-old murder mystery, and along the way, set their sites on taking down one of Sweden’s most corrupt CEOs. I suppose I should be turned on by the notion of a tattooed, punk rock chick righting social wrongs and living by her own moral code. Hell, I am the target for just such a character. But honestly, I felt the college-educated, urban sophisticate Blomkvist character resonated with a lot more truth than the fringe-dwelling Salander. That said, I liked the book a lot and will probably read the follow up. But I’m not running out to the bookstore or library to track it down just yet. If you have to read only one crime novel featuring a female protagonist this year, I’d give the nod to Megan Abbott’s Queenpin. It’s a different beast than Dragon Tattoo, more murky, dark, and depraved, but isn’t that what crime is all about?