A sensation in Europe, this Swedish blockbuster has finally reached our shores. Unlike the typical American bestseller, it is long, complex, and not paced with a stopwatch in hand.
At first it appears to be a variation on the classic locked-room mystery. A disgraced business reporter is hired by a man who wants a family mystery solved. Forty years earlier, his nephew's daughter, Harriet, disappeared from a small island; the only bridge was blocked at the time, no boats were missing, and her body was never found. Yet every year someone sends him a memento of the vanished girl. Beyond finding out what happened to Harriet, the old man wants the reporter to write a family history--one that uncovers the poisonous relationships that played a role in the girl's disappearance.
The reporter finds an unusual ally in Lisbeth Salander, a strange young hacker who has a chilly intelligence and an aversion to opening up to others. At one point, a character annoys her by comparing her to Pippi Longstocking, but it's oddly apt. Like the popular Swedish children's book heroine, she is independent, almost freakishly gifted and touchingly alone in the world. The two of them uncover truths that are brutal and deeply disturbing. The original title of the book--Men Who Hate Women--hints at the passions that drive the story. Sadly, the author died before this book saw publication, but as it is the first in a trilogy, readers have more to look forward to.