The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.

He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history.

But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a book I was hesitant to read for a long time. When it was released a massive hype and media storm surrounded it; this made me reluctant to buy it, I was scared that this novel would not live up to its expectations and my hopes for a brilliant thriller. However! Despite this, a friend convinced me to read it after she said she could not put it down and so, I read it, and the verdict is that I LOVED it! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the most incredible, thrilling and exhilarating novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading and along with Gone Girl and Jane Eyre, it is a newly found favorite read of mine. Stieg Larsson’s skill not only as a writer but a storyteller floored me – upon finishing this novel all I could do was sit back in shock and amazement at what a brilliant book I had just read. In my reviews, I like to write a brief description of this book, and although the majority of you will know all about this excellent book, I am still going to write a summary for the readers who are yet to experience this glowing read!

Our story begins in 1966 and follows the mysterious Vanger family. 16-year-old Harriet Vanger, daughter of the CEO of a family-run business (which can only be described as a wealthy empire) known as Vanger Corporations, goes missing from the family’s small island community and is never seen again. No trace of Harriet, not even her body was found. Harriet’s disappearance has always troubled her great-uncle, Henrik Vanger. Henrik has never moved on past Harriet’s disappearance; he desperately wants to know what happened to his beloved and most favorite family member.

The disappearance of Harriet has become Henrik’s obsession over the last 40 years; he has pondered over and over again about what could have possibly happened to Harriett. Sadly, Henrik soon concluded that someone had murdered Harriet but not just anyone… somebody in the Vanger family (now we have ourselves a family mystery book lovers!). Although Henrick believes Harriet was murdered, he nor the police have ever been able to think of a motive or find any potential perpetrators; therefore, he has no idea who to suspect.
Flash forward 39 years and it is now 2005 and Henrik is still obsessed with Harriet’s disappearance. Henrick’s time is running out to find the answers once and for all; He is an ill man with ailing health, he is growing older and sicker with each passing day, so soon, his obsession soon turns to desperation. In his desperation, Henrik decides to spend his riches on hiring an investigator to investigate Harriet’s disappearance so that he can indulge in his obsession one more time… once and for all before his time runs out.

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At this point in the novel, we meet the protagonist of the story, Mikael Blomkvist. Mikael is a forty-something-year-old financial journalist and editor of Millennium magazine; a magazine which he co-founded which prides itself on investigative journalism. Blomkvist, however, and the magazine have suffered a significant blow recently, and he has been convicted and found guilty of libel against one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Sweden: Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. It is crucial for me to mention Hans-Erik Wennerstrom because he and this subplot plays a considerable part in the latter part of the novel.

Mikael, with his name in poor-reputation, wants to keep a low-profile (understandably so!) and so, he pretends that he has been fired from the magazine to save it from further scrutiny from the media as well as the vicious Wennerstrom. Henrik Vanger is a man of many talents, one of those talents is scouting the right man for the right job. Henrick has been following Mikael and his career for a long time, he admires his journalistic skills, and when he learns of Mikael’s leave of absence, he sees this as an opportunity to hire Mikael and his resourceful knowledge to solve Harriet’s disappearance.

Henrick soon arranges a meeting, and upon Mikael and Henrik’s gathering, the reader learns that Mikael’s father worked once for the Vanger Corporation and Harriet herself had babysat little Mikael a few times. This, unlike the Wennerstrom snippet, is not an essential part of knowledge to the story. However, it does add another depth to this novel, and it helps with Mikael’s later decision.
Henrik jumps at the opportunity of hiring Mikael, and so he makes him a proposition. The proposition is that he come and live at Henrik’s estate with a year-long contract accompanied with an enormous sum with the ‘pretext’ of writing a history of the family – an autobiography of Henrik. I am sure all of you lovely readers can guess by now that this pretext is false and instead, his real mission is to discover what has happened to dear Harriet.

After much convincing and reluctance from Mikael, he finally agrees to take Henrick up on his offer, even though he knows that this is a troubling case as well as a challenging, delicate task and so, he needs help. Now the reader meets the second protagonist of the novel, Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a brilliant, quiet, secretive young woman who excels at her ‘job’ as a masterful, genius hacker. Lisbeth is a woman with a troubled past and an even more troubling present; she is typically a closed book, but she sees something in Mikael. Somehow, he earns her trust and frankly, it takes her by surprise. So begins The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as this enigmatic duo team up to discover the truth about Harriet’s disappearance.

Book lovers, I am so sorry for my very long synopsis! I get carried away when writing a review of a book I love. It is a novel I am madly in love with; it is mysterious, haunting, twisted and suspenseful… all qualities I love in a mystery! The secrets the reader uncovers will shock you to your core; already I would have to implore you lovely readers to read this book if you have not yet. It is too brilliant to be missed!

At this point in my review, I believe it is essential to write about Larsson’s inspiration for his novel but I warn you, it is incredibly harrowing. Larsson’s inspiration for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes from a tragic and unsettling incident a young Larsson witnessed at the tender age of just 15. Larsson spoke of how he stood by as three men gang-raped an acquaintance of his named Lisbeth. Larsson, days later, was racked with guilt for having done nothing to help her and begged desperately for her forgiveness…she refused. The incident he said has haunted him for all of his life and in part inspired him to create a character named Lisbeth Salander who is also a rape survivor in the novel. This inspiration is heartrendingly sad, and I was shocked when I read about it. I think readers who know this, will gain an even better understanding of Lisbeth and that is important considering she is the focus of the novel.

The crime elements within these pages are terrifying, and unlike anything I read before and again, I can’t mention it without referring to Larsson’s other line of inspiration. Larsson’s crime inspiration for his novel comes from the murder of Catrine de Costa. Catrine de Costa was a 28-year-old Swedish prostitute who was murdered and horrifically had her body dismembered and placed in separate plastic bags all over Sweden. What is worse is that the killer was never found and ‘him’ setting those bags all over Sweden was a horrible twisted game he was playing with the police.

Larsson as a writer certainly had a very unusual, but an incredible way of thinking and learning about his inspiration for this novel will bring you closer to it and help you understand it better. I just wish poor Larsson was alive today so I could pick his brain about all things The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could be labeled as only a ‘crime mystery’ however I think differently. I believe that this novel is so much more than a generic piece of crime fiction; it could never be generalized because it is special, unique. Larsson managed to add depths and layers to this novel which I have never before have come across with a crime novel.
Instead of being ‘just a crime mystery,’ it is the story of a woman’s survival, a story of crime, a story of disordered personalities as well as family relationships. It is more than a mystery, it is an entity of its own, and so I do hope that you lovely readers read this excellent book.

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Lisbeth Salander, where do I start? Lisbeth has to be the most incredible protagonist in the history of publishing. Lisbeth is an introverted, intricate, intriguing young woman; she is a woman who has a fantastic narrative, it grabs you from the first page and hooks you to the last. Lisbeth is not only an intriguing woman; she is a survivor, she has been surviving her whole life. She has survived the horrific state care system she had grown up in; in which she experienced unspeakable acts. She is surviving the prejudices which have sadly been placed upon her throughout her life. She is a remarkable woman for this alone but even more so because she has been surviving all by herself, with no help or support system. Lisbeth is a strong, authentic, poignant character and one of my favorite protagonists of all time.

As a lover of literature, I have to give praise to Larsson for writing such an exceptional novel. His writing will engross, enthrall and entertain you from the very first sentence; ever since the first sentence I was hooked. From that moment onwards I knew it was going to be an unforgettable read and it was! Larsson was a gifted writer; his words held such power over me and the millions of other readers his words touch.
It is tragically sad that Larson never knew the success of his Millennium series and what a critical read it became – especially for survivors. I am sure the majority of you know of Larsson’s fate, but in case you do not, I will enlighten.

Larsson had always only ever been a Journalist and Nazi specialist; however one day he decided to put pen to paper and write a book series. He walked to his publisher and handed his three manuscripts up front, but sadly, just a few days later he tragically died… he never knew the success of his novels, and that is so incredibly sad to me.

The next few paragraphs in my review are going to contain a few spoilers so if you do not know what happens in this book and do not want to be spoiled, then please skip to the spoiler-free sections which will be highlighted!

SPOILER – Having finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and learning of Martin Vanger’s true nature; I can’t help but see the shocking resemblance between him and his father’s gruesome crimes (but also the inspiration of the true-life murder of Catrine de Costa). As I am writing of how grotesque and immoral Martin’s crimes were, I have to mention that the crimes in this book are equally, if not more grotesque than the crime of Catrine de Costa; which is still a very shocking thought to me.

The crime in this novel could surpass that of a real-life horror show. If you do not mind reading about gruesome murders and crimes and in fact, have an interest in them then, of course, this is a book which you would revel in because the crimes were so disturbing that it makes your head spin with thoughts and feelings which you would not typically be accustomed. This is yet another reason why I loved this novel because as a lover of psychology and criminology alike, I was in my element!

SPOILER – At this point, I feel that I should write down my thoughts on the ending, not the conclusion but the ending and climax of the Vanger family saga and Martins murders. When Mikael was taken captive and strung up like a carcass by Martin, my first thought was ‘Yes! Now, this is going to be intense’ and intense it was! The conversation was raw, enticing and thrilling; so thrilling that I wanted it to last longer!

To summarise my thoughts on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I would say that this exceptional novel is a steady, streamlined, thrilling, gripping read which is distributing and creepy at the same. If you adore compelling mystery crime novels, then this indeed is the book for you and I have no choice but to give this incredible book Five Stars!

Thank you so much for reading my review book lovers! I appreciate it so much. I truly adore talking with all of you lovely readers so please do comment below and let me know all of those wonderful thoughts of yours! Let me know whether you have read this novel but also let me know if you haven’t and whether you would like to; I hope my review would have convinced you! If you have not read the book but have seen the movie then let me know your thoughts and whether you liked the movie or the TV series; I would love to know! If you have read the rest of the series too then please let me know whether they are worth me picking up! Thank you so much again!

Goodbye for now book lovers,

P.S. Here is a preview of the book for all of you lovely readers to enjoy! Please have a read of the preview and if you find that you have loved what you have read then all you need to do is click the Buy on Amazon button and it will take you straight to the book on Amazon USA! If you are in the U.K. then below I have attached a link to the book for the Amazon U.K. website. Please see attached a Book Depository link for those that are international! Thank you so much again for reading book lovers, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this book!



Amazon U.K.Book Depository / Publisher; Penguin Random House

Mini Movie Review

As this novel is now a movie I feel the need to quickly divulge my thoughts on it! I personally thought that the movie was insanely good and a perfect adaption of the book. The director David Fincher has a habit of adapting novels incredibly well, as we saw with Gone Girl which is one of my favorite books and movies of all time! I thought how the story was told was incredible and Fincher perfectly captured the harsh, cold setting of Sweden. The casting too was superb, especially Rooney Mara for Lisbeth; she was just amazing and I really implore all of you to watch the movie also!

Thank you so much again for reading book lovers!

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1,800 comments

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I saw the movie and loved it, but I really want to read the book now. Knowing how it was probably a way for Larsson to exorcise the demons of his past makes it that much more fascinating. Thanks for a thorough review.

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Also do you read many thrillers?

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Thank you so much for commenting J.S.! (Can I ask your real name? (: )

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I am so happy that you enjoyed my review! This book is amazing and if you loved the movie then you will really love the book.

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The book of course goes into so much detail and is much darker. Larsson’s writing too is just compelling and so addictive!

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Please come back and let me know what you think of it if ever you get the chance to read it! (:

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Hi. Once again I’m commenting on a review of yours without having read the book in question and having watched the movie adaptation (Infact I have watched all 4 movies that have been made on this trilogy, the three Swedish ones and the Hollywood remake too).
Your review was again, very good and detailed and your adding the “making of” of the book would surely have helped a lot of the readers.
And you have to give it to Mr. Larsson, he has created a female protagonist who can give any other lead out there a run for their money. Brilliant character, Lisbeth Salander.
The movie, since you asked, are great, the Swedish version being better than the American one, although the actresses playing the character of Lisbeth are amazing in both of them.
If I may, I would like to add a humble suggestion. Kindly mark the paragraphs where you are going to make the reveals as ” spoiler alert” or something such so as not to break the suspense for guys who will read the books based on your reviews and be enchanted and excited just as you were. This is just a humble opinion and I hope you wouldn’t mind my saying this.
Enjoyed reading the review. Thanks.
God bless. 🙂

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Hi there! Thanks so much for commenting again! I am loving reading these and replying to you, because you are making my day 10 times over! You really do have to give it to Larsson, his creation is magnificent. Lisbeth is magnificent and as I am sure you can tell in my review I love her so much!
And I am going to take this on so much! Normally, in a review I always say that I will be talking about spoilers, but yes! I know I should give more warning, just sometimes I write them in such a rush because of how excited I am and I just forget! So yes! Thank you so much for mentioning this, I have actually started to try getting better on this so I will even more. Thank you so much for commenting again! I adore you,

I actually was a bit shocked when I read the line about the reveal in the review, although since I knew it already it didn’t matter much to me. And yes, it sometimes happens to us all when we just write with the flow, when the words kind of come out of the hands, like we are writing on autopilot, and how wonderful that feels.
I’m just happy I found your blog and could add something meaningful to this already wonderful post. Your earnestness really comes through in every post.
Keep writing. God bless. 🙂

I know! Haha, oops, maybe I should change that, but as you said, sometimes I just go on autopilot and do not think too much about it. I will be more clear next time I promise, because I hate spoilers myself! If it had been an upcoming release or a release nobody had seen then I think I would have taken more care, but to be honest, pretty much everybody has seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I thought I may have got away with it lol.
And thank you so much, this has to be the sweetest thing anybody has said, I appreciate this so much! The same is for you. I am happy I came across your blog and I hope you don’t stop writing anytime soon!

Never mind. Now that you have put your review out, don’t bother with editing it and all. Let’s just hope that your review inspires someone to pick up the book and discover all the wonder that books provide for himself/herself.

Yes! Let’s hope lol. I am sure they will, people have been commenting saying they want to read it! So hopefully I didn’t spoil it too much (: I will definitely be better next time!

You will, I believe.

P.s. What are you reading at the moment? (:

Killing Floor by Lee Child, the first novel in the Jack Reacher series. I had watched the eponymous film that came in 2012 and thought I should give the novels a try too.

I love this book! I read this after I saw the movie too! I figured it was best to start with the first novel in the series. It was really great. However, I haven’t picked up the second one yet but it is a great read!

The movie, as u might know, is based on another book in the series, One Shot. And for fans of the movie like me, a sequel is in the works.

I was a huge fan of the movie. I know a lot of people didn’t love it, but I did. And I know! I am so excited, I am debating whether it is worth checking out One Shot considering I know the story and everything that happens!

You should read it, preferably after watching the movie once again so as to compare them both and also because books are almost always, as a general rule, better than their movie adaptations. So yes, definitely check that out.

That is very true about the books always being better than the movies, and you also make s really great point as to comparing them. I actually love comparing books to their movies so I really want to read this book now!

All the best then. Which book are you reading now?

I am reading the miniaturist at the moment and it is incredible! It is an historical fiction novel, set in Amsterdam in the year 1836? Around this era! I can’t remember the date exactly but it is a really great and beautifully written read so far (:

Haven’t heard the name so I guess I’ll have to google it. From your synopsis, it seems it’ll be interesting. 🙂

It is (:

How are you finding it so far?

Interesting, to say the least. 🙂

Good! You will have to write a review for it on your blog! (:

I will. I hadn’t thought of writing book reviews on my blog earlier. But now I think it was a most wonderful thing to do, considering I got to know if beautiful blogs like yours only because of that book review I wrote. Now I will regularly post reviews of books too, starting with Killing Floor.

Aww this makes me so happy! And I can return the favour by commenting on all of your posts lol. I know they will be great and I look forward too reading them!

Thanks for the advance appreciation 🙂

You’re so welcome! I will be keeping a close eye!

Thank you. Keep reading and keep spreading the wonder of the books

This is so sweet!

Books are such great sources of knowledge and open the whole wide unseen world to us. We need all hands that we can get on deck to spread the word.

Yes! You are so right, you couldn’t have said this any better. Books are my LIFE. Seriously, I love them. I went to the book store today and brought 30. Yep, I’m awful and my husband is going to kill me lol

30? That’s a huge number of books to start. Maybe your husband will join in the fun too, reading them all.

I know I am awful, but they weren’t all fiction. Some were non fiction. Mythology books and forensic books and what not! And we always read a book together regardless lol

That your collection is diverse is all the more better and elegant. And reading books together, wow! That must feel special!

I think so! I literally do not discriminate with books, I will read absolutely everything. And it is so special! I remember when we first came back to the states after we married (my husband is American and I got married at 17!) and we went to the book stores and I was in awe! I don’t even want to think about how many books we brought that day. Well, how many he brought lol.

You are full of surprises! First you’re a Brit and then you married an American guy, at 17!!!! Wow. I think that is a good enough premise for a book, fiction/nonfiction.
Also, it is important to read different genres and writers, that gives us a better perspective..
Maybe you should work on that book!! 🙂

Lol, I thought you may have known, it is all written on my about me page lol. My husband is older than me and to be honest, I love this. We had to run away to Scotland because that is pretty much the only place in the world where you can get married without parental consent!
It does, you are so right. I love to study knowledge. (Their is a scientific name for this but I can’t be bothered to write it!).
And we sure do have an epic story!

I didn’t know, honestly. Actually, I didn’t check your about page, only the homepage and the reviews. Guess I should have. Great to know that you have had such adventures.
Maybe one day I’ll be writing the review of the book based on your epic story, Lol!!

Haha, now that would be great! Youre so awesome by the way!

And so are you.
Thank you. 🙂

You’re welcome (:

P.s. I found you on Twitter!

Ping me.

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“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is fantastic — as is your piece about it, RedHeaded BookLover. And the next two novels in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy are just as good as the first one.

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Thank you so much for reading! I am so happy to hear that the next two novels are still amazing because I loved the girl with the dragon tattoo so much. Are you going to read the new book written by David Lagercrantz?

You’re welcome — and thanks for your reply! I loved Stieg Larsson’s writing so much that I can’t bear to see his series continued by another writer. I don’t plan to read the new book. What about you?

And thank you for your reply! And I do feel the same way. A fellow book lover commented that he had actually half written a 4th manuscript but his girlfriend and family members hold the rights to this and that they did not want to give it to be publishers to be publicised. I feel as if this is a great shame because he had clearly written a 4th manuscript because he had wanted to continue telling his story and it is a real shame that his family won’t hand it over but he truly is a magnificent writer.

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I liked the first one but the rest werent nearly as good.

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Oh really?! Oh no, I hoped it would be as good as the first! Would you still recommend reading them? (:

Of course my opinion is only just that.You might like them!I am a huge fan of mystery novels and it kinda lost that feeling in the second book where it became a lot more about the girl and her life..But do read them!

I think I would like the sound of the second novel because I am obsessed with Lisbeth as it is! I do understand what you mean though, what I loved about the girl with the dragon tattoo was the mystery side to it, so I hope it does not go completely! Did the third book contain a mystery at all?

No,I dont think so.It was mostly a book about Lisbeth again dealing with some serious issues,can’t say much.Of course there is some kind of mystery just not the kind I like.Larsson like you said was a huge feminist but he got carried away and it usually seemed to me that men werent very well crafted in his novels.

I have to say I am so intrigued to read the rest of the series now! It is a little disappointing to know that there isn’t such huge mysteries but hopefully lisbeths story makes up for it! And a huge feminist! I got that sense from the first novel but I hoped he would have left it at that because a writer constantly writing about a certain topic gets a little boring to me!

Well!Read the series and get back to me your opinions!

Will do! Thanks for discussing this book with me! I am a sucker for talking to fellow book lovers! (:

Me too!And I can only do that here!

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I loved this book as well.

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Thanks

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Yess!! It is so good. Have you read the rest of the series?

You know I honestly cant remember – how bad it that?

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Good review. I hope you get a chance to read the rest of the series.

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So do I! Thank you for commenting! P.s. I am so sorry for only just replying I found this in my spam which is bizarre!

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I liked this book, but didn’t love it and I never picked up any of the sequels. I’m interested to know if you read them and if you think the story gets better as it progresses through the other books. They probably won’t be at the top of my reading list, but I would give them a try on your recommendation.

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Thank you so much for commenting again! I appreciate it so much. I actually still haven’t got round to reading the rest of the series yet (which I guess is a bad sign!) but I pick it up, I read a few chapters and my interest diminishes. However! I WILL read the series but when I don’t know. When I finally do I will for sure tell you if you should read it or not (:

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A really detailed review of a great book. I agree with you on many things about the book, and I enjoyed it thoroughly myself. Great review.

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Thank you so much for commenting!

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Also I am so thrilled that you loved this book, I think it is fantastic! Have you read the rest of the series by any chance? Thanks for the kind words also!

I have not. The book was actually a dare from a fellow book blogger haha but the others are definitely on my list. Not so many good things apparently about the fourth book. What are you thoughts? (No spoilers haha)

Haha, oh really! I bet you are glad you read it though. I wasn’t sure about reading it first but I just loved it!

Yeah I wasn’t sure. It’s not on my list of genres but once I started, I got sucked in and really enjoyed it. Definitely glad I read it.

It did that to me to! You should write a review on it I would love to read that. Nice talking to you!

I haven’t read the other books either! Something is stopping me. I think it is because I love the first one so much and that the others are apparently nowhere near as good. They are on my list though but I have a feeling they will be there for a while!

If ever you get a chance to read the rest come back and let me know what you thought (:

Will do 🙂

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I love this trilogy so much, and even if I know the fourth novel doesn’t really have all that much to do with the first three, I do own that one as well. It’s really too bad his family wanted all the money, even if Larsson’s girlfriend had basically co-written all the books with him. That’s the reason why the almost finished manuscript is still not released.
Great review 🙂

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Thank you so much for your amazing comment! I am so glad somebody loves this novel too! When I first read it I fell in love, however, to my shame I have still not gotten round to reading the rest of the trilogy ! But it is next on my TBR list after this amazing comment of yours. And this is so interesting about the girlfriend! I knew that she did not want the last manuscript released but it is so interesting to know the reason why. So thank you so much for letting me know!

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I’m curious have you read the fourth novel and if so was it anything like the original trilogy? (:

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Lisbeth Salander is an amazing character invention and a big inspiration to me and my work. (I often quote her alongside Hannibal Lecter as being the best examples of the anti-hero.) I need to read the fourth book as Langercratz has had good reviews for it.

As for the films: both Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara captured different sides of Salander so effectively, but I’d give Mara the edge.

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I freaked out when I saw your mention of Hannibal lecter! He is one of my favourite characters especially because I love forensic psychology so much! And I need to catch up on the rest of the series! I can’t wait to get hold of it. And yes I have seen both but I do believe mara was so much better and captured Salander more effectively. Thank you so much for commenting!

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