The Girl With The Dragon Tatto By Stieg Larsson Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to three months in prison, and ordered to pay hefty damages and costs. Soon afterwards, he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, the retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history; the investigation of Blomkvist's circumstances has been carried out by Lisbeth Salander, an unusual young woman who works as a surveillance agent with Milton Security; even Salander's boss, Armansky, has doubts about her but is afraid to enquire too closely into her background. Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström, in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his niece, Harriet, was murdered by a member of the family 36 years earlier, and has spent the intervening years obsessively but unsuccessfully seeking the answer to the mystery. Harriet disappeared at a time when nearly every member of the family was present on the island where the Vanger estate is, but when the island was, temporarily, effectively cut off from the mainland by an accident on the only access road. Blomkvist moves to the island and begins his research into the history of the Vanger family and Harriet's disappearance. Shortly after Blomkvist arrives, he begins an affair with Cecilia Vanger, a cousin of Harriet's, now a head teacher and a few years Blomkvist's senior. He has lost touch with his lover and business partner Erika Berger, herself a married woman and editor of Millennium, who is angry with him for accepting Vanger's offer and leaving her to run the magazine in Stockholm. Eventually it is Vanger himself who persuades Berger to come and visit, and a deal is made to enable the magazine to benefit from an association with the Vanger Corporation. Lisbeth Salander, who is considered asocial, was ruled legally incompetent as a child, and is under the care of a legal guardian. When her guardian, Holger Palmgren, suffers a stroke, he is replaced by lawyer Nils Bjurman, who uses his position to sexually abuse her. After using a hidden camera to record Bjurman raping her, Lisbeth takes her revenge, torturing him and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances. While searching through the evidence, Blomkvist decides that he needs a research assistant, and Vanger's lawyer suggests Lisbeth. When he sees the report she prepared for Vanger, Blomkvist realises that Lisbeth has hacked into his computer. He confronts her, but shows none of the anger she expects. Lisbeth agrees to assist in the investigation, and a sexual relationship quickly develops, but Lisbeth keeps Blomkvist at a distance emotionally. Blomkvist and Lisbeth begin to realise that they are on the trail of a serial killer, with suspicion falling on Harriet's uncle, Harald Vanger, the only living family member sufficiently old to have been responsible for the killings. An attack on Blomkvist confirms their suspicions that they are on the right track. When looking through old photographs, Blomkvist realises that they contain a clue to the murderer's identity. When he becomes suspicious of Harriet's brother, Martin Vanger, and goes to his house, Martin takes him prisoner. Martin reveals that the murders were started by his father who later encouraged his teenage son to participate. Martin admits to murdering dozens of women, but denies killing his sister. Martin tries to murder Blomkvist, who is saved just in time by Lisbeth. Trying to escape, Martin drives his car head-on into a truck on the wrong side of the road and is burnt to death. By following a trail that leads first to Cecilia's sister Anita, who now lives in London, Blomkvist and Lisbeth find out that Harriet is still alive and in Australia. Blomkvist flies over and learns the truth about Harriet's disappearance: that her father and her brother had repeatedly raped her, that she killed her father by drowning and that her cousin Anita had smuggled her out of Sweden. Blomkvist persuades her to return to Sweden, where she reunites with her uncle, who makes plans for her to take the position of CEO of the Vanger Corporation. Blomkvist accompanies Lisbeth at the funeral of her mother, who has just died. After taking out her grief on Blomkvist and questioning whether he just wants a sexual relationship with her, Salander leaves the cottage. She eventually returns to the cottage that night and has another sexual relationship with Blomkvist. Blomkvist is furious when he learns that the evidence against Wennerström that Vanger promised him is useless. However Lisbeth has already hacked Wennerström's computer and has discovered that his crimes go far beyond what Blomkvist documented. Blomkvist and Salander work together to further unravel Wennerström's crimes at Blomkvist's cottage at Sandhamn. They spend about six weeks there working and continuing their sexual relationship, interrupted by a short break where Salander picks up a freelance assignment. Using her evidence, Blomkvist prints an exposé and book which ruins Wennerström and catapultsMillennium to national prominence. Lisbeth, using her hacking skills, succeeds in stealing more than a quarter of a billion dollars from Wennerström's secret bank account. Blomkvist and Lisbeth spend Christmas together in his holiday retreat and their sexual relationship continues. At around New Year's Eve, she goes to Blomkvist's home, intending to declare her love for him but backs away when she sees him with his long time lover Erika Berger. As a postscript, Lisbeth continues to monitor Wennerström and after six months, anonymously informs a lawyer in Miami of his whereabouts. He is found in Marbella, dead, shot three times in the head. I recommend this international bestseller to all who eagerly sift new books for challenging intellectual crime thrillers, who luxuriate in immersing themselves in the ambience of a compellingly created world and memorable characters, who soak up financial and investigative minutiae as well as computer hacking tidbits, and who want to share Larsson's crusade against violence and racism. Definitely read before you see the movie. It will greatly aid your understanding of the plot. Click here to get a copy of the girl with the dragon tattoo at amazon.
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