In case you haven’t heard, Swedish writer Stieg Larsson’s number one best selling book series has created a huge following world-wide. The trilogy follows the story of a brave woman and an embattled journalist beginning with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, then The Girl Who Played With Fire, and finally, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Rarely do you hear about contemporary crime fiction that has gained such world-wide popularity. So why does everyone love them so much? My guess is that people relate to the characters and the stories because they are believable, interesting, and complex, yet carry us beyond the events of our daily lives to a fast-paced, harsh world where quick thinking and gutsy moves make the difference between life and death.
Lisbeth Salander, the heroine in all three stories, brings a new character to the literary scene. She first appears to be a hardened soul, criminal, in fact, as she relives killing her father and then graphically fights off a sexual abuser. You soon learn that she is extremely intelligent and committed to researching crimes far beyond the norm, and then using the information to personally see that justice is done. Even though she has suffered physical and sexual abuse since she was a child, she faces violence and abuse as an adult head-on as she fearlessly takes down the offenders in her own highly effective way. It is refreshing to get to know a female character who uses her anger to quietly take decisive action. You wonder, however, if someone so independent and seemingly void of emotion is capable of finding love, or even wants it, for that matter? An embattled journalist is willing to give it a try.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is somewhat of a love interest for Lisbeth in the three stories, unlikely as it may be. He is middle-aged and down on his luck, but like Lisbeth, he is driven to uncover some dangerous criminal situations which put his life in harms way. After she initiates a sexual encounter, he finds the odd looking, quiet girl irresistible.
We love Lisbeth because she not only kicks the hornet’s nest, she smacks the venom right out of them, and, like her recently deceased creator, Stieg Larsson, she seeks no glory. He writes from the heart, and we are lucky to go along for the ride.
If you prefer watching movies to reading, I highly recommend ordering the Swedish versions of the stories with subtitles. Although American versions of the stories are in the works, hearing the Swedish language and seeing the gritty style of the movie makes it more realistic and enthralling. The books and movies can be ordered from Amazon.com here.
To learn about new library services, read “The London Public Library: An Example of the New Mega-Library.”