Now I’ve read this thriller. It was given to me, when I was still in the book trade, by a friend at the publishing house. She passed on a galley and wanted my take on it.
(A digression-I have this notion that one is as likely to find truth and recognition in genre fiction (or genre movies), than it is in mannered self-conscious writing- we’ll call it “literary fiction”. That it is possible to illuminate while entertaining and far more palatable. And palatable is not to be sniffed at. In fact, like many people the older I get the less I want to be challenged by something from a writers workshop. It’s not that I don’t want to be challenged or stimulated. It’s just that I’m not particularly interested in writers who have yet to work out their relationship to their readers, have yet to figure out their job– make me want to read your book and hear what you have to say- and whose knowledge of the world seems to consist of something they read in a book. Which is why the older I get the more and more I give fiction the old body swerve and head for the non-fiction tables).
Still I’m always up for a piece of smart fiction wrapped in a ripping yarn.
“Girl With….” is an odd piece. One of the principals is a principled journalist, a crusading muck-racker; when was the last time anyone thought to cast a member of the old media in such a light? The other principal is a super-saavy self-taught computer genius with a dark armor of violence and a willingness to use it- a creature at once super modern and yet primal, hardly socialized in any modern sense, not just shut off but shut down. It’s an interesting mix, two extremes of what we think of as the human condition- ultra-modern knowledge on the far reaches of the computerized world and a will to survive and do what is necessary that would be instantly recognizable to our most distant human ancestors. It’s this extreme juxaposition in one character that is the best thing in the book.
The plot is of the family-with-deep-dark-secrets-stretching-into-the-mists-of-time variety and if you read enough of these things it shouldn’t be too hard to figure the who-did-what-and-why. That’s not to say the whole thing isn’t a very satisfying ride. The publishing rep gave me the galley knowing the book contained a plot twist that is catnip to me- I won’t say what, but good call there KR- and I’m sure most readers will happily find their interest piqued and their attention retained all the way to the finish. A finish I might add which feels like it may have been written for something else but which works to enhance the ultra-modern/primal evil contrasts of the book. Very satisfying and well done to the late Mr. Larsson.
(So I bought a copy, having long since lost the galley, wanting the super computer-saavy lady I live with to read it. It also helps that the idea of the primal is not lost on her. How many women do you know who love Deadwood, 300 and 13th Warrior????)
And now I find they have made it into a movie…..