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Extended Audio Sample The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00000128909439 out of 54.00000128909439 out of 54.00000128909439 out of 54.00000128909439 out of 54.00000128909439 out of 5 4.00 (767,981 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

  • “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. Glamour
  • Larsson’s debut thriller succeeds on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. First off, it’s an absolute page-turner. But the characters are so fascinating and the clear, understated writing so graceful, you are going to want to savor it . . . Electrifying. Portsmouth Herald (NH)
  • “Is the hype justified? Yes . . . This complex, multilayered tale grabs the reader from the first page. Library Journal (starred)

    “The first U.S. appearance of another major Swedish crime writer is cause for celebration . . . The novel offers compelling chunks of investigative journalism, high-tech sleuthing, and psychosexual drama. What a shame that we only have three books in which to watch the charismatic Lisbeth Salander take on the world!
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a striking novel. Just when I was thinking there wasn't anything new on the horizon, along comes Stieg Larsson with this wonderfully unique story. I was completely absorbed. Michael Connelly
  • I doubt you will read a better book this year. Val McDermid
  • Dark, labyrinthine, smart, sexy, utterly original, and completely captivating, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo delights at every level. Nuanced, sympathetic characters, caught in a tangle of unusual and compelling relationships, grapple with a baffling family mystery and with their own demons in the unique literary environment of modern-day Sweden. This book is artful and grand entertainment. I couldn’t recommend it more highly. John Lescroart
  • So much more than a thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dazzling novel of big ideas. It tackles issues of power, corruption, justice, and innocence–all the while drawing you into the twists and turns of a frighteningly suspenseful mystery. Harlan Coben
  • As vivid as bloodstains on snow. Lee Child
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an utterly fresh political and journalistic thriller that is also intimate and moral. In spite of its dark unearthings Stieg Larsson has written a feast of a book, with central characters you will not forget. Michael Ondaatje
  • Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family’s remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller . . . At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden’s dirty not-so-little secrets, this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple. Publishers Weekly (starred)
  • “An exceptional effort for a first-time crime novelist. In fact, a fine effort for any crime novelist . . . This book is meticulously plotted, beautifully paced, and features a cast of two indelible sleuths and many juicy suspects. Boston Globe
  • 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. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • “The book lands in the United States as Wall Street sputters and global markets clench, a timely fit to Larsson’s themes of corporate corruption. He tells his crime story cleverly, but the zing in Dragon Tattoo is inked in its two central characters. Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • “A super-smart amalgam of the corporate corruption tale, legal thriller and dysfunctional-family psychological suspense story. It’s witty and unflinching . . . Larsson’s multi-pieced plot snaps together as neatly as an Ikea bookcase, but even more satisfying is the anti-social character of Salander. Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)

    “It’s like a blast of cold, fresh air to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo . . . It features at its center two unique and fascinating characters: a disgraced financial journalist and the absolutely marvelous 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander–a computer-hacking Pippi Longstocking with pierced eyebrows and a survival instinct that should scare anyone who gets in her way.
  • Larsson’s novel could serve as the definition of page-turner . . . The worst part: We have to wait until summer ’09 for the second installment. Time Out New York
  • The biggest Swedish phenom since ABBA. People
  • Imagine the movies of Ingmar Bergman crossed with Thomas Harris’s novel The Silence of the Lambs. Larsson’s mesmerizing tale succeeds because, like P.D. James, he has written a why-dunit rather than a whodunit. USA Today
  • “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

  • An intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller that is variously a serial-killer saga, a search for a missing person and an informed glimpse into the worlds of journalism and business . . . Lisbeth is a punk Watson to Mikael's dapper Holmes, and she's the coolest crime-fighting sidekick to come along in many years. Washington Post
  • “What a cracking novel! I haven’t read such a stunning thriller debut for years. The way Larsson interweaves his two stories had me in thrall from beginning to end. Brilliantly written and totally gripping. Minette Walters

    “With its compelling situation, its complex plot and especially its unique, fully-realized characters, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo embodies–in seamless translation–the best of European crime fiction.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a Tolstoyan re-invention of the ‘closed room’ murder mystery, Agatha Christie for adults. Curl up on the sofa with this masterwork of noir and let Stieg Larsson draw you into the shadows. It’s also a profound investigation into tribal violence in the world of high finance, and a revelation of the dark side of a country normally seen as the very height of propriety. By the end of the first chapter you will know better. By the end of the second you will be putty in his hands. Don’t even think about putting it down. John Burdett
  • From the UK:
  • Crime fiction has seldom needed to salute and mourn such a stellar talent as Larsson’s in the same breath. The Sunday Times
  • Larsson has up his sleeve two extremely engaging protagonists. Once these characters have appeared, our surrender to the novel is guaranteed . . . This is classic English mystery territory. But what follows is much darker and bloodier–more Thomas Harris than Dorothy L. Sayers. The Independent
  • The ballyhoo is fully justified . . . The novel scores on every front–character, story, atmosphere, and the translation. The Times

    “This is a striking novel, full of passion, an evocative sense of place and subtle insights into venal, corrupt minds . . . The journalist and the hacker are ingenious creations.
  • “A blockbuster story . . . The plot is interesting and credible but above all the heroine is splendidly original . . . An extraordinary book. Literary Review
  • An absorbing and idiosyncratic crime novel. Daily Mail

  • “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 ben | 11/27/2016

    " Real attention getter, twists and turns that keeps you on the edge of your seat, characters that you can see and hear in your head as if you were with them step by step, so real you feel as if you can see every detail and hear the screams, your rooting for the good guys and cheering them on to discover the hidden secrets of the powerful companies that have cheated their way to the top. When you turn the last page you are sorry it's over and want more. Couldn't put it down even when it's done. "

  • 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. "

  • > Show All
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