‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

Mystery-thriller a brilliant novel

By April George

Readers seeking a great mystery to curl up with should choose “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

The novel takes readers on a literary roller-coaster along with the main characters, journalist Mikael Blomkvist and world-class hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Blomkvist, recently convicted of libel, is approached to solve a decades-old mystery. When he enlists title character Salander to help him, the two are launched into an unexpected journey whose ending will leave readers wanting more.

I recommend having lots of time on hand. Once started, the book is difficult to put down.

Along with the main narrative, the book begins to tell the story of Salander but purposefully does not reveal much. The reader is left questioning whether she should be liked or disliked.

The web of intrigue is the mystery surrounding the Vanger family. Its patriarch, Henrik, has enlisted Blomkvist to discover the truth about the disappearance of his niece, Harriet. Under the pretense of writing a family history, Vanger intends to crack open a case dormant since the 1960s.

“Tattoo” was written by Swedish author Steig Larsson, who also authored two sequels: “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

Larsson, who was himself a journalist, wrote the novels as a way to unwind after returning from his job each evening. He died of a heart attack in November 2004. The three novels, known as the Millennium Trilogy, were published posthumously in Swedish and English.

All three books have been made into Swedish films, and “Tattoo” will be made into a Hollywood film as well.

Part murder mystery, part romance novel and part thriller, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has something to appeal to all readers. It’s a bit slow in the beginning, but stick with it. Once the story takes off, it’s definitely worth the read!

Grade: A-

Acting dazzles in film version

By Darcy Arizmendi

The first film of the Millennium Trilogy by Swedish author Steig Larsson provides a very strong start.

Unlike most books turned into movies, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” stays true to the source material. It’s so close, in fact, that some message boards argue the film summarizes events better than the novel.

The movie, filmed in Swedish, has English subtitles. Blu-ray and DVD versions offer an optional English dub. The second film in the trilogy, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” is playing for a limited time at the Loft Cinema, and will be out on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 26.

Director Niels Arden Oplev starts “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the same as the book. Hero Mikael Blomkvist, played by Michael Nyqvist, is in court facing libel charges. Before he begins serving prison time, he is asked to investigate a 40-year-old murder case.

Blomkvist is hesitant to help until he learns the victim was his childhood babysitter. Not long into his investigation, he feels like he has hit a wall. A computer message from hacker Lisbeth Salander, played by Noomi Rapace, guides him in the right direction.

After Blomkvist tracks her down, 24-year-old Salander agrees to help with the investigation. This is where the story gets legs and runs.

The storyline is great, but the real highlight is the actress who plays Salander. Rapace, who even put in real piercings to look more like her character, exactly resembles the woman Larsson described.

Rapace gives her character the necessary edge to play Salander. She excels while portraying the book’s most explicit and emotionally traumatizing parts.

This movie has a strong cast and true-to-book form, matched with a terrific sendoff that ties it together but leaves room for the next part of the trilogy. To say this movie deserves attention is selling it short. This film is one of the most important book adaptations in the last decade and requires attention.

Grade: A-

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