Critical analysis: the mystery made up of violence that became a bestseller

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a must read book for everyone who loves crime novels.


It is the first book of the Millennium trilogy (which includes The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest), written by the Swedish author Stieg Larsson, who died before the trilogy was published.

Once one starts reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, published in 2005, one won’t be able to stop reading because of the essence of mystery.

The story portrays the disappearing of the industrial Henrik Vange’s grand-nice, Harriet. Vanger, convinced that the girl, who disappeared 40 years earlier, is still somewhere alive, hired the journalist Mikael Blomkvist to find the truth. With the help of the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist will find out that Harriet’s disappearing is related to the violent past of the Vanger’s family made up with murders and sex crimes.

The book, which became a movie, entails two characters (the journalist and the hacker) with two different stories, but they both have to solve Harriet’s dark enigma.

But what makes the book so much involving that it became a bestseller both in Europe and in the U.S.? Simply everything, such as the two different stories inside the story and the characters deeply described, as Salander: a sexually assaulted girl with a traumatic past who tries to make a living with her computer hacking skill.

With a simple but incisive language, along with violent scenes that hit the reader’s minds, Larsson was able to tell a story with a humanistic and tragic sense. One profound message emerges between the written lines: men who abuse women. The book in fact wants to be a critique of the Swedish dark side system of violence towards women.

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