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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I can't figure out why everyone raves about this book

Three plots of strands of plots going on in Steig Larssen's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo": one involving crooked businessman Wesserstrom (?) who defeats central character, Blumkvist, in a libel action, threatening the existence of Blumkvist's magazine, Millennium; aged industrialist Henrik V. who hires Blumkvist to investigate death or disappearance 40 years ago of his grand-niece Harriet and who claims to have incriminating evidence against W. that Blumkvist can use; title character, Salander, a detective who for some reason V hired to investigate W and who is being sexually abused by her legal guardian (she is some sort of ward of the state, though she's in her 20s or so). That's a lot of plot! I'm a third or so into the book and for the life of me can't figure out why it has been such a success. I don't read a lot of crime/thriller fiction, but there must be better out there. For 200 pages it's been almost nothing but clumsy exposition. For example, Blumkvist has to learn about all the members of the V. family, who live on the tiny island of Hedeby, and Larssen manages this by a long walk through the village during which Henrik V tells Blumkvist who lives in each house. There has almost literally been not a single scene in the book so far in which anything remotely interesting happens (the scene of Salander's abuse is a partial exception, something happens but it's not interesting, just repulsive). The detective novels I've read and enjoyed, from the classics like Hammet to Parker and some others, involve lots of locales and encounters and tense situations. This book - I'm +200 pages in, and none of the main characters has been in jeopardy for a moment and for the most part all the protagonist, Blomkvist, has done is listen to others lay out the elaborate mechanisms of this cluttered plot.

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