Unfortunately I was drawn in by the hype and some rave reviews and decided to plunge into the Millenium trilogy. The first book at least - The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo - came as a disappointment.
The book follows two protagonists - a financial journalist and a social outcast hacker (the girl with the dragon tatoo) - in their at first separate and then joint quest to solve the mystery of an unsolved murder investigation of 40 years ago, and in a second step uncover some financial wrongdoing by a fictional Swedish financier. So far so predictable.
Sadly, the author fell way short of the research necessary to make a compelling case of it being a good thriller / crime novel. Where he does score fully, though, is in designing the characters and happening along very populist lines, so somewhere the success is not as surprising, as it would be, judging by the quality of the book alone. In essence it is another case of getting a good grasp of the target audience but being relatively clueless on the subject matter - in its populism and superficiality he very much reminds me of Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons).
So what is wrong with it? First of all, it seems like the editing process has been curtailed or not done properly - the book would need to lose at least 150 pages and the author sadly devotes pages to pontificating on some technological stuff he is less than competent in. It tells us more about him being a fan of Apple computers than it does of the case, on top of that the information is very basic and will age quickly. A numbers person, the author is not - there were several instances, where he adds something up through the characters and seems to be incapable of checking calculations with numbers up to 10 - not essential to the story but annoying nevertheless. The financial part (i.e. the misdeeds) appears written by someone with a complete lack of understanding how it all works - luckily the whole 'financial business is murky' meme and the assoicated 'it must all be crime and crookery if the common man does not understand it' idea suffice to let many of the equally inept professional endorsers swallow it without commenting. Financial misdeeds are a very real problem but the way they are treated here does not shed any real light on it. Someone like Frederick Forsyth in Biafra Story truly shames Larsson by showing how investigative journalism should be used for good writing (the insights were subsequently used in The Dogs of War).
Not surprisingly the whole financial trickery came at a wonderful time for the series - exactly when there is plenty of interest in it as a result of the financial meltdown in 2008, practically ensuring readership. The second element - the molestation of women - is equally well chosen for populist appeal but the author again fails to do the very real problem justice.
In the end the book is not a massive chore to read but it does drag on after a while, and having it continue for more than 100 pages after the mystery is resolved (something one can guess at waaaaay earlier) was not a highlight, either.
If you are interested in Scandinavian / Nordic crime fiction, you will do better with Mankell (Wallander series) or Nykänen (Raid series).