There are two central characters in this gripping mystery written by Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson. At the beginning of the story, crusading financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist finds himself on the losing end of a libel suit, and has been sentenced to three months in jail and a sizable fine that will hurt his already floundering financial journal Millennium. To help bail him out of this bad situation he reluctantly accepts the offer of wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger to move to a remote island in Northern Sweden for a year to solve the mystery of his beloved great-niece’s disappearance forty years ago.
Lisbeth Salander, the real star of the novel, is a troubled, anorexic-looking 24-year-old woman chock-full of tattoos, body piercings and attitude. Most are fooled by her looks and often she is mistaken as being mentally deficient. But behind her twisted persona lies a brilliant computer hacker with the intelligence and wisdom of someone twice her age, and a terrifying potential for cold-hearted revenge targeted at men who hate women (the original title of the book).
This unlikely duo are thrown together to solve the mystery and, in doing so, unearth a plethora of Vanger family dysfunction and sleaze, with a couple serial killers thrown in for good measure. Solving Harriet Vanger’s disappearance seems to be an impossible task, since the 40 year’s worth of evidence has been examined many times with a fine-toothed comb. But Blomkvist’s journalistic talents for unearthing obscure evidence, and Salander’s photographic calculating mind lead them right into the killer’s lair. A great mystery, hard to put down.