Much like The Song of Ice and Fire series, I am a little late to the Millenium series. Much of what I have to say here will probably echo the discussions regarding the recently released David Fincher movie.
The story centres largely on the investigation by journalist Mikael Blomkvist into both a corporate pirate and a missing girl from a rich and powerful family. He becomes entangled in an enormous murder mystery, and is helped in his investigations by Lisbeth Salander, one of the most interesting female characters I have read about in some time. She likely has Asperger’s, and is generally hard to understand, but is just so strong and determined and intelligent that is is hard not to be fascinated by her. The mystery itself is kind of contrived, and Blomkvist is kind of an unlikely Lothario, but the story itself it really engrossing while you are reading it. After I had finished the book, I was really uncomfortable with how the female characters are generally treated in the novel. I now understand that the original title of the book was Men who Hate Women, which seems a much more appropriate title. I have had trouble recommending this to some people, not so much because of the graphic violence, but the sense of anger and selfishness that seems pervasive throughout.
Overall, I enjoy the writing style of Henning Mankell quite a bit more that I do Larsson’s (I am 3/4 of the way through The Girl Who Played with Fire, which is much slower than Dragon Tattoo), although both of them seem to have some stilted dialogue. I don’t know if that is a characteristic of Swedish writing in general or a by product of awkward translation. I really enjoyed the book at the time I read it, was eager to continue the series, but it certainly isn’t something I will ever read again.