In a nutshell:
Great premise, weak delivery.
Some nifty writing, some quite average and stale.
A few spine-tingling scenes, some beyond plausible.
Like the girl (the one with the dragon tattoo, duh).
Grew tired of the guy.
Bloated? Yes. Overblown? Yes.
Entertainment value? Some. I wish the whole yarn had been cut by a third.
There are many elements to like in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” particularly the set up. The path to redemption is a dandy. Our fallen financial journalist really has no choice but to take the bargain. It’s devilish.
But once on the journey toward redemption, the wind up takes forever. The ending is nearly as long. There is a self-described “labyrinth” of financial arrangements to track and a long list of characters to track. You may want to take notes as it goes.
My biggest beef is how the plot pulls in a wide array of stray threads and readers are left to guess which thread will pull taut. These aren’t just little red herrings, these are red whales dragged across the plot in a dizzying array of weirdness.
Obscure biblical passages? Check.
Tortured animals? Check.
Incest? Racism? Sexual deviants?
Check, check and, yes, check.
The main character, Mikael Blomqvist, is a bit of a wet noodle. He’s the pinball. He gets bounced around. The title character (who brings her energy to the plot only after we spend lots of time with Blomqvist) is a feisty and fun—but she’s also a bit of a cartoon, endlessly fearless and equally a-social. (A long scene of revenge early on seems overly milked for revealing her toughness; not for the squeamish!).
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” floats loose from its moorings in the last quarter and, despite the length build-up, just gets a bit too easy for “the girl” and the Mikael.
The work on the puzzle takes time. But then the solution comes too easily. Photographs within photographs, a much-too-easy wiretap, a fast trip to Australia, some easy acquiescence, and then the long trudge to the finish.
The vision was large, the sweep compelling. I finished. That’s about all.
Doubt I’ll read the next.