I heard about this book repeatedly at Bouchercom last year, so I bought a copy. Finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago. While it has many virtues--the character of Lisbeth Salander is as well-drawn as any I can remember--and much of the core mystery is well done, I have no idea why this book has received such acclaim. What could be great scenes are summarized almost into non-fiction, things that could be summarized are too drawn out, a major clue is so convoluted in its discovery that it's laughable, and the final disposition of the killer is a cop out.

I appear to be swimming aganst the ride with this opinion. What am I missing? Or does this emperor have no clothes?

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Yes, I remember hearing about this at Bouchercon, too, and since then I've heard either, "love it" or "huh?"

Which is probably better than, "yeah, it's okay." Better to have some people really enthusiastic than everyone just sort of ho-hum.
I think Larsson (deceased) got the hype because a) he's Scandinavian and we've had several fine novels by Scandinavians since 2000, and b) because the novels are posthumous.
Well, I'm with you. And I agree about the character of the girl. I see quite a few highly acclaimed books (one tries to stay abreast of one's profession) that are pure hype. And another thing I see is authors who have done outstanding work once and then try to replicate this over and over again. I've also seen them get lazy and careless. The readers don't care. They buy the books anyway.
They buy the books anyway much to the delight of some authors who have made a career of repackaging the same story sixty or seventy ways. That in itself is a talent of some kind.
I don't know about this. We have an awful lot of books about battered women. It's almost become a cliche. And social activism has always turned me off big time in fiction. On the other hand, Swedish society may be interesting to an American audience. Actually, I suspect that much of Europe is closer to American conditions now than I remember from my own youth. Possibly our gun culture hasn't quite progressed as far there (leaving aside Finland).
Interesting point about financial journalism. They don't seem to be doing their job here either.
I'm shocked by those statistics. It suggests a strongly paternalistic society -- as other European countries also used to have. And it makes me wonder why Swedish women permit this to happen. I believe that sort of thing has changed dramatically in, say, France, England, and Germany.

And absolutely should crime novels reflect the sordidness of their society (and sordidness has always existed, long before modern times). The background needn't run the plot, though. I suspect that I was more turned off by the lovingly detailed descriptions of violent sexual acts than by the fact that the acts happened. I suspected that that choice was commercially motivated. I think the book would have been better and the character more effective if this crime had been shown to have happened without the detail -- a matter of less is more. Of course, that still leaves plot problems and an occasional lumbering slowness about the financial reporting business.
Those statistics can be interpreted in different ways, though.

I have a feeling the number of reported assaults in North America is still low compared to the number of actual assaults.

It's possible that in Sweden a higher percentage of women who have been assaulted actually report it.
I agree it's still hard for women here to report a rape, though one in three still seems awfully high. I wonder if the definitions of sexual assault are a little different.
Haven't read the other two. May or may not do so. I'm not really highly motivated.
I think the real problem--aside from the writing issues Ingrid notes above--is that Larsson had the makings of two good books there and couldn't decide what to do with them, so each plot wound up diluting the effect of the other. By the time he'd finished with the family hiistory and uncovered the murderer, the end of the financial story seemed anticlimactic, when it could have been an excellent book on its own.
The thing that drew me into the book in the first place was that lovely, poignant image of the old man receiving a flower every year on the anniversary of his niece's disappearance and lovingly saving each one. If the author had done justice to that, I think this would have been a remarkable book.

Yes, there were too many family members, but I think the problem was less that there were so many than that they were all very shallowly drawn. I found that to be true of many of the characters.

I suppose the financial mess could have made a good plot as well, though I admit that my eyes glazed over whenever he started to go on and on about financial issues. It could have worked well as a journalist's fight for justice, though the author would have had to actually introduce us to the villain, instead of just talking about him ad infinitum.
I agree that it is overrated, though there is a lot to like. My theory for the good reviews: The hero is a journalist.


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