I was reluctant to pick this novel up and I can't articulate why. Something about Lisbeth Salanders name.
The thing to remember when reading this book is that the author, Stieg Larssen was Swedish, and is dead. These are keys to why the book is the way that it is.
The lead is Michael Blomkvist, a financial journalist, and a compulsive serial man slut. He's on his way to serving a short prison sentence for publishing a story he can't back up in his financial journalism magazine . Because it's Sweden, he's got months before he has to show up to serve his time, and he reluctantly takes a job in a remote village as a family biographer cum private investigator for the Vanger clan.
Blomkvist is largely a snooze. Financial Journalism is awful and boring, and even Blomkvists sexcapades, while mind boggling, are not exactly scintillating.
When the book isn't unnessecarily educating me about the ins and outs of financial journalism, and confusing me about why anybody wants to seduce Michael Blomkvist it's a really really good book.
Lisbeth Salander is a well designed character (even if Photographic Memory isn't an actual thing). The best way to describe her is functionally mentally ill. Because badass though she is, she inspires any number of amateur psychiactric diagnoses.
In the first third of the book, I could hardly wait for anything involving Blomkvist to be over, but after that it got alot more gripping. This is why I say that Larssen's death is important. My understanding is that generally an editor will essentially hack and slash, and send the transcript back to the author a few times for reworking. I put it to you that, as Larssen had passed, passages that would perhaps otherwise have been cut out or scaled down remain.
The result is, a book that could have been superb, is just great.