I've had this one on my reading radar for a while, and the wait was totally worth it. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a thriller with a definite difference, and that's a very, very good thing.
It opens with a mystery that's years old _ in the 1960s, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a small isolated community. Nearing the end of his life, her uncle Henrik Vanger, a Swedish industrialist, hires investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist _ recently dragged through the courts by a wearying libel case _ to find out the truth about Harriet once and for all.
He takes the case, and heads to Hederby, the same small, isolated community that Harriet Vanger disappeared from in the 1960s, with the covering story that he's ghost-writing Henrik Vanger's autobiography.
Woven among Mikael's tale, is that of Lisbeth Salander, a 24 year old hacker, private investigator, and the titular girl with the dragon tattoo. She's hired, at first, to do a background check on Blomkvist, and ends up working with him on the Vanger case, when Blomkvist finds he needs to delve deeper into the family's history than he thought.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo isn't an easy read, but it's a rewarding one. Less of an edge-of-your-seat thriller, and more of a slow burn - Blomkvist and Salander don't meet until something like two-thirds of the way through the book - it demands your attention and then holds on to it all the way to the end.
Blomkvist is a little world-weary and suitably cynical for a middle-aged investigative journalist, and a well-rounded main character for a thriller, but the really interesting character here is Salander. She's a self-protective enigma who has suffered tragedy in her past, and she deals with and controls her environment in unexpected ways.
It's a work-out for the braincells, and not necessarily just because of the twists and turns the story takes, but the way Larsson has set everything out so carefully - the structure of the novel is amazing, and I'm excited to read the second book in the trilogy.
9/10 So good, you'd take it to meet your Mum