Tuesday, 26 August 2008
MUST stop reading must stop reading just another page must stop reading.
It's one of those books - but not for the first third, which is slow and awkwardly written.
Read the first few pages to get the characters in your head, then skip to a third in, when our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, is investigating the long-ago disappearance of the heir to an industrial empire.
Stieg Larsson, who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was Sweden's best and bravest investigative journalist, the bane of racist and neo-Nazi organisations and a world authority on them.
His life was lived under constant death threats.
After his work in journalism, he settled down at night to write thrillers. He wrote a series of three - this is the first; the other two will appear in translation next year and 2010.
He gave the manuscripts to a publisher, and then died of a massive heart attack at the age of 50.
The books, published posthumously, were a million-selling sensation in Sweden, and this first of the series is now taking off worldwide, after being chosen by Oprah.
The story: journalist Mikael Blomkvist, convicted of libel for a story about a dodgy tycoon, is hired by the aged head of the Vanger family to investigate the disappearance of his granddaughter in the 1960s.
Working on the Vangers' desolate island home, Blomkvist is helped by a hacker, Lisbeth Salander, a damaged kid under the 'care' of the State. They discover that there's more to the Vangers than a family business.
There they become the hunted, with very dangerous people on their trail, ready to kill and maim to shut them up.
Apart from being a tense, horrifying thriller that will have your eyes standing out from your head and your mouth hanging open as you read, it's a guide to investigative reporting.