Book review: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson is a curiously lumbering thriller.

It starts slowly and ends slowly. In between, the novel has more than its share of often bizarre twists and turns. Yet, the shock value of these is consistently undercut by Larsson’s wooden writing. (Or is it the clunky translation by Reg Keeland that’s responsible?)

Still, as an entertainment, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” does entertain. It keeps the reader turning pages.

There is a cinematic quality to the story. Lots of visuals. Lots of action. No wonder the book has already been made into two movies, one in Swedish and one in English that will come out in less than a week in the U.S. And that the novel’s two sequels have already been filmed in Swedish, and are certain to get an English language treatment as well.

There’s also, at the heart of the book, the fascinating enigma of Lisbeth Salander — she of the dragon tattoo — an ill-adjusted, erotically charged and scarred gamin and world-class computer hacker.

She’s a haunted victim and a dangerous adversary, compelling enough to carry this overweight, overlong book on her thin shoulders.

And enough to carry me, after finishing “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” immediately into the second book of Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander trilogy, “The Girl Who Played with Fire.”

Patrick T. Reardon


  • Pam Sall Posted December 15, 2011 12:40 pm

    Suggest you see the Swedish versions of the books. Loved them.

    • Patrick T. Reardon Posted December 15, 2011 12:43 pm

      Have ordered the three Swedish movies, and plan to see the American one next week. I suspect the films cut out all of extra stuffing.

  • Steve Freeman Posted August 17, 2016 2:16 pm

    Like you I did find the start a little slow but was soon hooked and had to read all three books back to back. I was loaned the three DVDs and watched them immediately after. I have to say they were some of the few films I have seen that actually accurately follow the books. Regards. Steve

    • Patrick T. Reardon Posted August 18, 2016 9:04 am

      Steve — I liked seeing the novels brought to life in a very striking way, and enjoyed comparing the 3 versions of the first book — the book, the Swedish movie and the American movie. Pat

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