On the Millennium Trilogy

Introduction: The Psychology of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Robin S. Rosenberg, Ph.D., Shannon O'Neill

Reading a good book is like undertaking an investigation: as readers we comb through paragraphs and pages, linking pieces of plot and character together to build a coherent, compelling picture of a complete world. When we come to the end of a book and snap shut the cover, we often feel satisfied that our investigation is over. Our questions have been answered; the “case” is closed. But the books that truly affect us–whether thrillers, mysteries, or stories of unrequited love–often don’t give us a complete sense of closure. They raise questions that linger long after the last page.

Stieg Larsson’s books The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest whisk us away almost instantly with their spellbinding characters, fast-paced action, and dark, brooding mysteries. Larsson gives us a world in which we can lose ourselves, ignoring dirty laundry or dishes in the sink as we race through the streets of Stockholm on the back of Lisbeth Salander’s motorbike to try and stop a serial killer. But instead of merely going along for a fictional ride, Larsson challenges us to look beneath the surface of things, to ask difficult questions, and to seek the truth for ourselves. We are driven to try to make sense of–or at least find our way through–the labyrinth of clues the books lay out.

It’s not just his plots that have twists and turns and blind corners, however. Many of his characters are puzzle-boxes: difficult to  …

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