By Sophia Latorre-Zengierski
The Swedish trilogy by Steig Larson flew off shelves this summer into the hands of eager readers; so I decided to jump onto the band wagon and see what the books were all about. An exotic crime novel set in a thrilling enviroment with corruption and scandel written all over it: what else could one want?
A hell of a lot more. There are some good ideas in the book, but its vulgarity and over-simplified writing prevent that from shinning through. The intricate murder mystery plot is solid, but it’s over-whelmed by loosely related violent and graphic scenes that are completely unnecessary. Oddly, the writing is that which a twelve year could understand, but the content is more suited for at least an eighteen-year-old.
The original Swedish title ‘Men Who Hate Women’ suggests a broad theme, but ultimately the book is sending a negative image towards women and promotes destructive behaviour within both the family and the business world.
Brutal crimes are indeed committed against innocent women, particularly Salanader (the female lead), but what about the crimes against men which forces this circle of violence to continue? The Protagonist, Blomquist, is stripped naked, beaten and nearly killed towards the end. Furthermore, these wounded women fight against the legal system – by running away or seeking revenge in an equally violent and violating manner – in attempting to find a way of reconciling these incidents. Surely, we should be promoting the idea that human problems, however intricate, violent or cruel, can be dealt with justly through a court of law.
After sexual politics, the second most prominent theme in the novel is corruption in the business world – a poignant topic with the current economic situtation and one that is sure to be echoed in the second Wall Street film. Despite its timeliness, this is also not handled correctly, but steryotypically. Wennerstrom, a rival buinessman, is able to manipulate the courts to frame Bloomquist for a crime he did not commit. This in turn affects the reputation of his publication, which quickly procceeds to decline. But this problem is not solved through exposing the framing, but retaliating against it.
More to the point, the entire book is based on lies: a series of murders and brutal crimes covered up, falsified evidence, betrayal within the family, manipulation of justice, illegal computer hacks, even the premise that gets Bloomquist to work on his case is a lie.
Intrigue and outrage run like wild fire through this book and its sequels and I suspect it is their shock-value which has allowed them to rise in the ranks of the best-seller list, but if you want an easy-read that’s not a waste of time, look somewhere else.