Monday, 2 November 2009

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson. It was quite enjoyable, with a well-paced plot and good juicy messed up family dynamics. It hinted, gently, at a couple of agreeable political slants (white-collar crime and violence against women) without them becoming intrusive on the one hand or particularly urgent or relevant on the other.

It avoided the machismo and nihilism that puts me off a lot of crime thrillers without either having a tougher-then-nails she-devil as the protagonist or being twee and bloodless. Actually, I suppose the character of Salander is rather a tougher-than-nails she-devil, but there's an awareness of how difficult and damaged such a character would be. I was little disappointed when she fell for 50-something financial journalist, but that's part of the genre, I guess.

My wife had this one haging around from her bookgroup, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. I'd seen all the ads on the tube and although I generally don't read a lot of commuter fiction. , I was curious about it. I wonder if public transport is the only thing that keeps for the market these things healthy? Translation rights for any territory with a big commuting class are a gold mine for thrillers with the bland international style of an economy hotel - Freddy Forsyth and Len Deighton, back in the day, and now Robert Harris and Andy McNab. At the upper extremes you've got writers like John le Carre, I guess, and The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum struck me as just smart-arse versions of the same thing. Anything to pass the hideous half an hour to ninety minutes spent jammed up with your fellow homo domesticus as you're ferried from field to barn to milking shed and back again!

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