Stieg Larsson flies to new heights

More on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire, the first two books of the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

In a fascinating post (scroll down for the English translation), Dorte of DJs krimblog provides further analysis of the likeness of Lisbeth Salander and Michael Blomqvist to Pippi Longstocking and Kalle Blomkvist, respectively. Pippi is a popular children's fictional character, particularly in Sweden, who is strong, assertive, independent and lives on her own, mocking any adults who try to control her. In another series of books by the same author, Astrid Lindgren, Kalle is a teenage detective, one of a gang who solve criminal puzzles in a style that has been likened to Hercule Poirot or Peter Wimsey. I have to admit that I did not take to Pippi as a child, and I don't have any recollection of Kalle (though I did enjoy a perhaps similar book by another author, Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner). So I don't have the same warm memories of Lindgren's books as many others have.

When I first read of this association, which is alluded to several times in the first two books of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, I felt that the emphasis on these characters from children's fiction, while making some sense, did not work in the context of some of the very dark parts of these books – the first two of which go to many extremely black places. Dorte's posts explain the allegories extremely well: here she discusses Michael as Kalle Blomqvist; and here Lisbeth as Pippi Longstocking (albeit with a feminist crusading and necessarily, for her part, dark streak). For an earlier post that acts as a sort of introduction to Dorte's two analyses, see "Who is Lisbeth Salander?" by Norman of Crime Scraps.

In other Stieg Larsson news, Ron Beard of Quercus writes to let me and other bloggers know that "the paperback of Dragon Tattoo is selling more, week on week", that Playing with Fire is still riding high in the hardback charts (and indeed, Dragon Tattoo is also doing well in hardback), and in a charmingly generous comment: "we all know where the buzz first started"! (In the blogosphere, naturally.)

See here for a new review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at Eclectic Book Reviews – "for once, however, I suspect this is a case where you should believe the hype, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo really is that good". And just in case you think this post is me hyping, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the favourite read for 2008 of the Euro Crime reviewers – and I didn't even vote for it! (I loved the book, but I thought I'd prefer book 2, which I did, so I'm saving my vote for that – or maybe even book 3 when it is published here this Autumn.)

John Baker reviews the same book here, also bringing to the fore the Pippi Longstocking aspects. "I couldn't put the book down", he writes.

Barbara Fister writes about the books in a post with the title "it all goes back to childhood".

Helen of It's Criminal reviews The Girl Who Played with Fire: "utterly brilliant – enthralling, compulsive and mesmerising".

Another review of the same book can be enjoyed at Material Witness, who calls it "a quite outstanding novel". And the ever-insightful Glenn of International Noir Fiction shares with us some comments on The Girl Who Played with Fire, among other points, making comparisons with the novels of Dumas.

And here are a couple of round-up posts about Stieg Larsson and his books, one here by Barbara Fister at Scandinavian Crime Fiction; and one here by yours truly at Petrona.

I hope by now you have got the drift: these books really are a bit special. Do read them (if you haven't already!).