Mikael Bloomkvist, a Swedish financial reporter, has just been convicted of libel concerning a story he did on a corporate CEO when is asked to go to Hedestad and meet with Henrik Vanger, former CEO of the Vanger Corporation. With nothing else to do since the conviction he agrees. Henrik explains to him that he wants to hire him for one year, and in that year he wants him to ghost write Henrik's autobiography and try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Henrik's niece, Harriet, in 1966. The disappearance has obsessed Henrik for the past 40 years and since he is getting older, he would like closer as to what happened. he is convinced Harriet was murdered, and wants Bloomkvist to see what he can find out. Bloomkvist agrees, for an outrageous payout at the end of the year and a little bit of sliver lining. Henrik can give Mikael Hans-Erik Wennestrom on a platter and help him clear his name after the libel conviction. As he starts his research for the autobiography and his attempt at figuring out what happened to Harriet Vanger, he is faced with the pure dysfunction that is the Vanger family for the past generations. Wife beaters, Nazi's and perverts make up most of the family and the closer Mikael gets to the truth, the more he gets sucked in to the family secrets that Henrik is hellbent on exposing. Once Mikael finds some things the police overlooked in the case of Harriet's disappearance, he requests the help of a researcher, who Henrik would approve of, to assist him with all of the sources he needs to check out. Bloomkvist goes to Dirch Frode, Henrik's longtime lawyer, friend and confidante, and in return gets a name of someone that can help him: Lisbeth Salander.
Salander is a 24 year old hacker who works freelance for a private investigation company. She was hired by Frode prior to Henrik hiring Mikael to run his background and provide a report on him. A product of the system, she accepts the job and goes up to Hedestad to help Mikael.
From then on the secrets start to split wide open about the Vanger family. Together they uncover what happened to Harriet in 1966, sexual abuse, incest and murder all in the family tree which brings forward someone who does not want the truth to get out and will stop the 2 of them at any cost.
I finished this yesterday but have had a hard time deciding what to write. The mystery plays out well through the whole book, but the constant financial secondary story was distracting. The first 50 - 100 pages concerning the lawsuit against Mikael went directly over my head. The answer to the mystery was pretty sick and twisted, but not so shocking that I didn't have a feeling where the story was going, even though there were a few surprises in particular that had me setting down the book for a few minutes.. A thing at the very beginning of the book that I thought would play a key roll in the whole story is just explained at the end as an aside. On the other hand, I loved the characters of Bloomkvist and Salander, who reminded me a bit of myself, and I am going to Walgreens this morning in the pouring down rain just so I can get the sequel and start reading it today.