The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson , Quercus 2008, 542pp.
I was 500 pages in to Les Misérables, so less than half-way, when I decided I needed some trash, picking TGWTDT, which seemed to be all over the place. I was done with it in two days, so it fit the bill for a quick read. I liked the Swedish background -- my sister and I read all the Sjöwall and Wahlöö mysteries when we were kids. I also kept thinking about some perfect open-faced sandwiches served in a meeting room on my business trip to Finland last year. Mmm, Scandinavia!
There is the usual mystery-story wish fulfilment. The protagonist, a reporter, gets into bed with practically every woman who shows up, in a genial sort of way. He is a fighter against big evil corporations. Get used to financiers being the villains in these stories for some time to come. Actually, most of the men in the story besides the protagonist are pretty rotten. Chapter headings quote statistics about Scandinavian violence against women. There is also an energetic scene where the tattoo girl revenges herself on her evil rapist minder. She needs a minder because she is supposedly mentally incompetent, although she has a James Bond-like way with gadgets and can hack into any computer, a bit too conveniently for the plot. This plot, as a mystery, is uninteresting, but keeps the story moving along. There is more torture than some people might like. I might read the rest in the series.
Heh, good luck with seeing this reputation recover any time soon. :-)
My current modus operandi is to find good (or great) novels that are 425 pages or fewer. I'm sick to death of all these great big fat novels. Hasn't anyone heard of an editor? Yeah, yeah, there are some long novels that are worth every page, but Infinite Jest ? The Recognitions ? Anything by Pynchon? Hell, anything by Neal Stephenson, whom I like. Hmpf. If Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, William Faulker, etc, can write a great novel in 425 pages, then so can others.
So, how *is* Les Miserables?
I replied: Les Miserables is utterly fantastic so far!