Held my interest better than any novel since Bourne Identity. Larsson’s pacing is quite clean, and he handles the multiple storylines with apparent ease. I go back and forth about Salander’s believability as a character, as she wanders towards ott in several places.
Certain aspects are too easy: Swedish Nazis, violence against women (a real problem, but hardly original or fresh from a literary standpoint), diabolical sexual deviants, etc., but Larsson avoids the trap of making pastor into a villian, for which I am grateful. Pastors of course can be villains, but that would hardly be different or interesting anymore.
The strangest aspect to me was the lengths Larsson had to go to in order to present evil. Since adultery, divorce, and promiscuity are no longer shocking or even bad, (cf. Scarlet Letter), the bad guy has to be truly despicable, again lurching into the ott area. Sure, it’s more titillating and lurid, but this seems to lower Larsson’s achievement from crime novel to pulp fiction.
Not for the faint of heart, or weak of conscience, but a well-told tale of sin and the impossibility of justice in a world of create-your-own morality.