There are two stories in this book. The first is about Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist’s investigation of the unsolved 1960s disappearance of Harriet Vanger The second, only loosely connected with the first, deals with Blomkvist’s attempts to expose corrupt industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.
The first story has by far the better plot. But it does take time to get going; I was nearly a third of the way through the book, before I was hooked. But from that point I couldn’t put the book down until the mystery was solved. I had already seen the US film version so I knew the ending but it was still a gripping read. The backdrop is a small island where much of the extended Vanger family lives. I thought the locations were well described. I found the character Lisbeth Salander very interesting. She is a computer hacker/researcher (with a dragon tattoo) employed by Blomkvist. She is autistic, disturbing with a very disturbed history and with an attitude problem as far as any authority figure is concerned. She’s not at all likeable, but I found her fascinating, nevertheless.
There were a few things that prevented me from giving 5 stars. First the verbose lead in. There was a lengthy introduction of the Wennerstrom case, followed by a detailed description of the Vanger history and extended family tree, before the story really got going. There is too much detail throughout the book, such as specifications of computers used or Swedish guardianship laws, for example. Then having solved the Harriet Vanger mystery, the last fifth of the book wraps up the Wennerstrom case. This is a far less interesting story and is an anti-climax after the Vanger business. So overall, 4 stars.