It is a basic mystery book, with a twist. Mikael Blomkvist is hired to discover the truth about how Harriet Vanger disappeared forty years ago. He then hires Lisbeth Salander to assist him with digging through historical documents. They do solve the mystery, and in the process discover goings-on that one faction of the Vanger family would prefer to remain secret.
I'm not quite sure why this book has been so hyped. Maybe because the author died before it and the two sequels were published. Maybe because of the rumours that there are another one or two sequels in his computer that are being argued over in the courts. Maybe because it is a very easy read.
I didn't feel particularly compelled by this book. I found the first half of the book to be boring (and with such a thick book, that was several hundred pages). The next third was gripping and hard to put down. But then the ending of the book seemed to drag on forever and I struggled to finish it before getting onto the airplane again, so that I could leave it behind!
The story was pretty conventional, as far as mysteries go. Nothing special here, though the story that was uncovered was very disturbing.
And most of the characters didn't grab me either, with the exception of Lisbeth Salander. She is quite the enigma. Fiercely independent, brilliant, socially inept, and with an unexplained background. I haven't decided yet whether I will read the sequels, but if I do, it will be purely because I want to find out what happens next to Lisbeth, and hopefully discover more about her past.
So definitely a mixed review on this one. It kept me sufficiently occupied while away on holidays, but not much beyond that.