Wow... I knew this wasn't an easy story. I had some expectation of sordid and terror. Little did I know!Sometimes I wonder why we're drawn to stories such as these, filled with horrors and terrors and evil. Couldn't there still be a story here, one that wasn't so... much? I suppose that's the ostrich view of the world, so here goes.It's easy to see how this book has become a movie phenomenon - 1st the Swedish version in 2010 and now the American version in 2011. Lisbeth Salander is a dream role: non-conformist, dark, brooding, take action, kick butt, tormented young woman who's got a photographic memory, is a whiz with technology, and can find patterns in seemingly unrelated and irrelevant information. Mikael Blomkvist is a celebrated journalist, co-owner of a magazine, and on top of the world... until he's set up with his current expose and is convicted of libel, which nearly wipes out his life savings, ruins his reputation and career, and has him serve 3 months in prison.You'd never put these two people together. Ever. And yet Stieg Larsson did, and quite successfully.And he gives us a murder-mystery to boot -- one filled with ugly family secrets and fetishes... a beloved 16 year old girl, Harriet, who vanishes.Mikael is lured into supposedly writing the Vanger family history, but is really trying to find new angles on what happened to Harriet. Except most of the family is highly suspect. And trying to stop him. Especially when he brings Lisbeth aboard as his research assistant.I can't say that I condone or approve of the violence and horrors in the book. It's a pity that the original title, "Men Who Hate Women", didn't stick. Because that's what you must keep in mind as you read the book. I was particularly outraged at the cover-up that occurs near the end of the book. I see how it would only open old wounds and expose new ones, but I don't agree with Lisbeth's attitude of getting revenge rather than justice. I see how she no longer believes in "the system", so for her to suggest that course of action is within her character. But for Mikael and others to *allow* the cover-up and make it happen... all the money in the world can't replace, revenge, or make up for what happened.I also have a tough time with Mikael's casual sexuality. It might be vogue, but it cheapens him and his character. Double-standard is, that Lisbeth is in character with the way that she expresses herself sexually. But Lisbeth likely has some form of autism, perhaps Asperger's Syndrome, as Mikael theorizes. You can't hold her to the same standard. I also don't like the casualness of Mikael's relationship with his daughter. I suppose these are his flaws... the things that make him human, the tragic hero, the everyman. This book is definitely a thrill ride. It's definitely NOT your light reading, average mystery, or even typical thriller. This book is intriguing -- it draws you in and keeps your attention. You *want* to know what happened... and what's happening. But be warned that this book isn't for everyone -- especially those who might not be able to shake off it's horrors. Recommend it carefully.