The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (unabridged audiobook read by Simon Vance, translated by Reg Keeland; 16 hrs 21 min on 13 discs): Mikael Blomkvist, fresh from a libel conviction, has stepped down from the editor’s desk of the magazine he founded, Millenium. Shortly thereafter, Swedish industry tycoon Henrik Vanger hires him to research the disappearance of his niece Harriet nearly 40 years before. Meanwhile, 20-something antisocial genius Lisbeth Salander is slowly attempting to put her own life together. Eventually the two meet and begin working together on the case. The plot is complicated, with almost too many Vangers to keep track, but I definitely enjoyed it. I felt the suspense and was saddened by the sad parts and cheered at the victories of the Good Guys. I learned that I know pretty much nothing about Sweden and Swedish history, and was a little concerned at how misogynistic the society is portrayed. There was quite a bit of graphic rape, murder, and mutilation, to the point where some of it felt rather gratuitous. (Likewise with Blomkvist’s sex life: does he sleep with every single woman he meets or just most of them?) Still, I found the story engrossing and just had to know what happened next. More importantly, I have a real affection for Salander and I look forward to reading of her later adventures in the rest of the trilogy.
A note on the audio: I’ve listened to Vance read other books, and he was likewise excellent here as well. I particularly enjoyed his voice for Lisbeth, since it was both undeniably female without being a caricature.