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Extended Audio Sample The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (767,984 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stieg Larsson Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Millennium Series Release Date:
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Although The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was not published during the lifetime of author Stieg Larsson, it became a huge hit after his death along with its two sequels, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The original title of the book was 'Män som hatar kvinnor' or 'Men Who Hate Women'. As the title suggests, there is quite a bit of misogyny in the book, in the crimes committed, as well as the personal experiences of the protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a ward of the state and when her guardian dies, she is transferred into the care of a lawyer who tries to take advantage of her position by sexually abusing her. The first time this happens, Lisbeth is taken by surprise and just does what he says but the second time, she comes prepared and videotapes everything. Later, she uses this videotape to blackmail him into letting her have control over her own affairs. She also ties him up and tortures him to get her revenge.

The other protagonist of the book is Mikael Blomkvist, a failing journalist who is given the job of looking into the death of a girl named Harriet, greatniece to Henrik Vanger, a well-known retired businessman. Harriet disappeared 36 years earlier from the island where the Vanger family had their home, but Vanger keeps receiving birthday gifts from her and determines to find out what happened to her all those years ago. He sends Mikael to the island and suggests that Lisbeth should work with him since she is a hacker.

Together, Mikael and Lisbeth figure out what all the numbers in an old notebook mean—they are references to the Bible. Lisbeth also finds out that there is a connection between Harriet's disappearance and several rapes and murders of women over a period of 20 years. In a stunning finale, Lisbeth rescues Mikael from the clutches of the murderer. Although a romantic relationship had started to develop between Lisbeth and Mikael, he goes back to having an affair with the married woman he was involved with before.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an intense book which shows the darker side of human nature. At the same time, its heroine is brave and courageous and, although she has been raped, she doesn't take this lying down. Not only does she escape from the clutches of her own rapist, she also prevents him from raping other women using threats of exposure. Plus, she is instrumental in uncovering what happened to all those women who were raped and murdered by a sadistic psychopath.

The writer, Stieg Larsson, took inspiration from the places he grew up for the isolated setting of the book. He was raised in northern Sweden where his father worked in a smelting plant. Although his parents later moved to Stockholm, they left Larsson behind with his grandparents because Stockholm was too cramped and crowded. So he stayed in a house in the country and used cross-country skis to go to school. During his lifetime, he did not publish his novels but was instead active in the science fiction community, publishing fanzine issues. He was also an activist who sought avidly to counteract the extreme right and the growing white-power culture in Sweden. As a result, he received many death threats and although he had a life-long partner in Eva Gabrielsson, he didn't marry her, in an effort to reduce the security risks.

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate under the guise of writing his biography. Blomkvist is aided by the pierced and tattooed hacker prodigy Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Combine the chilly Swedish backdrop and moody psychodrama of a Bergman movie with the grisly pyrotechnics of a serial-killer thriller, then add an angry punk heroine and a down-on-his-luck investigative journalist, and you have the ingredients of Stieg Larsson’s first novel.”

    New York Times

  • “A compelling, well-woven tale that succeeds in transporting the reader to Sweden for a good crime story.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Wildly suspenseful…an intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller.”

    Washington Post

  • “Exceptional…Meticulously plotted, beautifully paced.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Unique and fascinating…It’s like a blast of cold, fresh air to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A whip-smart heroine and a hunky guy who needs her help? This sexy, addictive thriller is everything you never knew you could get from a crime novel.”


  • “A meticulous exploration of both evidence and character, plus finely crafted revenge…Exemplary.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “A fine, complex, and rewarding novel.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A big, intricately plotted, darkly humorous work…that only a master of the genre and its history could bring off.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “The story has a great setting, very human characters, and a plot that becomes more intriguing with every turn of the page.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “With its rich characterizations and intriguing plot, the first book of the late Stieg Larsson’s completed trilogy…clearly deserves the acclaim it’s received overseas. Wenner’s calm, controlled manner aids the listener in keeping track of the numerous members of the Vanger family, a task that the printed book simplifies with a reference page.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no turning back. This debut thriller—the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson—is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Electrifying…Larsson’s debut thriller succeeds on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.”

    Portsmouth Herald

  • “Engrossing…Lisbeth Salander is the most fascinating female protagonist in mystery fiction since Patricia Cornwell introduced Kay Scarpetta.”

    The Advocate

  • Winner of the 2009 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and Nominated for Best Novel
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2008
  • Winner of the 2010 Barry Award for Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A #1 USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection
  • Winner of the 2009 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by M | 3/28/2016

    " Could not wait to hear the next chapter - very well read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Aakanksha | 2/11/2014

    " A treat for crime fiction lovers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Aubrey | 2/11/2014

    " While the beginning was a bit slow and hard to follow, the rest of the novel was gritty and enveloping. Lisbeth may be crazy, but I like her. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Michele | 2/6/2014

    " I saw this book everywhere a few years ago; it was the talk in the pubs, the subways, on the Internet, etc. I had to know what the fuss was about this book--so I checked if out of the library (after the movie). I was apprehensive (given how many pages if had), but I began reading it. After overcoming understanding the Swedish names I got into it--and read it I less than a week. I was so hooked that I went out and bought the trilogy. Excellent read in my opinion; the only thing that disturbed me about the book was the brutality against women; when I saw the Swedish version of the movie I seethed with anger. Other than that the book was excellent. "

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