My opinion is that Lizbeth Salender, the girl with the dragon tattoo who played with fire and kicked the hornet's nest, is THE most intriguing characters if crime fiction since Hannibal Lechter, and the the very short series by Steig Larsson one of the best crime series ever.

I tend to get hyperbolic about things that I like, so I would like to hear others' opinions.

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I agree that she is one of the most intriguing recent characters. I do not agree about the quality of the Larsson series. I've read numbers 1 and 2. Number 2 is a good deal better than 1, which was utterly boring except for the parts featuring Lisbeth. I may read # 3, but there's no hurry.

The problem with the Lisbeth character, as has been pointed out by a minority of the critics, those who weren't totally bowled over by the trilogy, is that it rests on sexual abuse described in graphic detail and amounts to the sort of "violence against women" theme that is anything but good news to women's groups. Of course, there is then retaliatory violence, also described in graphic detail, which turns Lisbeth into the sort of "kick-ass" female much beloved by women readers. I think, in this case they both work, but surely the feature was a marketing decision. (I'm never overly impressed by marketing decisions).

But the fact remains that the character is the only part that makes the books come alive.
I don't think the "Kick-ass" female thing was a marketing ploy because Larsson was a well-known feminist in his country. He did a lot of journalism surrounding women's issues and generally stuck to the plight of minority groups who get little support from the main power heirarchy. In fact, the Swiss title for the book is "Men who hate women" because Larrson wanted to write about Misogynists who get what's coming to them.
I read about two-thirds of Number Two. The book was great when we were in Lizbeth's POV but dragged almost everywhere else. I put it down during one particularly long passage about the legal system that read like a non-fiction magazine piece. Haven't picked it back up yet.

For me, Robert Crais's Joe Pike is the most intriguing character in current crime fiction.
Salander is a great character. Well developed and complex, flawed but working around it in her own imperfect way. There wasn't too much else I liked about DRAGON TATTOO. The plot was contrived, too many extreme coincidences to get to the resolution, and Larson had a gift for spending too much time on thing that didn;t merit it, and not enough on things that did. I'll not read the other two.

@ Jack Getze:
Yeah, I'm in the tank for Joe Pike, too.
Whenever this comes up I post this: http://www.thefword.org.uk/reviews/2009/09/larrson_review.

Of course, I'm in a very small minority - I didn't like Hannibal Lechter, either ;)
That was an interesting review. Thank you for the link.
Another female view of Salander:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0728/The-Girl-with...

PS: I never "liked" Hannibal Lechter, I just think he is one of the most interesting characters in recent fiction. (OK, define recent ... Last 20 years.)
I like Salander (though I agree with a lot of that F-Word link about the rest of the book). I think she's interesting enough that I'll read the second book. I also really liked Blomkvist; he's a bit like a Le Carre character, and I look forward to getting to know him better.

It's the book itself I found flawed. Did Larsson die before he had the chance to dive in and edit? For me, it read like a really excellent first draft. So excellent that I'm sure he could have made the whole book as good as the beginning and end if he'd taken the time to make it happen. I wonder if he lost the chance for an editor to tell him, right, clean up the middle, lose half your characters, and change their names so they don't all sound like the same person (seriously, there was a Birger and a Berger!).

I also thought Salander and Blomkvist having sex was a little bit shark-jumpy.
It actually was a draft! Larsson was working on the MS with an editor while he was finishing the third in the series. After he dropped the third novel off at the Publisher he went home and, as he was walking up some stairs to get to his apartment, had a heart attack and died. The Editor decided to go ahead without changing the manuscripts. There's also rumoured to be another 250 pages of a mystery fourth installment, but the legal kerfuffle surrounding Larsson's will (he died without one) means that his royalties and rights to the novels are in limbo.
Wow, thanks for that clarification. The book makes so much more sense now.
I actually made this point in another post ----in Larsson's books are references to characters and places in Astrid Lindgren's children's books--- Pippi Longstocking and Kalle Blomkvist (boy detective). Amusing and ironic, of course. Pippi Longstocking was irreverent, extremely smart and often possessed of supernatural powers (strength). Now, who does that remind you of? Lisbeth Salander is not REAL. I mean, not the way most women are real! She is an atomic, 21st century radical punk version of Pippi Longstocking ( who was a redhead, though, not a brunette---but who knows what color Lisbeth's hair was before she dyed it black). I think that was Larsson's little joke when he invented this character. Lisbeth is tiny, with a child's body---until she gets the breast augmentation---but utterly fearless and ferally ferocious both physically and intellectually. Computer hacker par excellence, with a photographic memory? Can take on any thug with nothing more than a tazer, golf club or baseball bat? Rides a motorbike like a bat from hell? No one gets the better of Lisbeth Salander! She is a kind of Fury--an avatar of Justice. Capital J. Oh, yeah, and she even manages to solve Fermat's theorem on her own. Take her with a grain of salt---or two! You gotta love her. Sort of. :) Watch out guys---you might not want to meet her! The sexual abuse is disturbing, but as I said---she's an avenger.
Excellent, Caroline! :)

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