It took me a very long time to get through all of the financial mumbo jumbo at the beginning of the book. To be quite honest, I almost DNF'd this one, but my husband and I read it together and he encouraged me to keep truckin' along. I'm very glad I did. I'm normally a romance king of girl, as most of you know. But I try to branch out and often I find that I can really get into different genres. Still, the four stars is due to the slowness at the beginning. The rest of the book deserves a solid five.This was a fabulously well written book.The term 'well written' is subjective, and I cringe sometimes when it's overused. I try to stay away from it altogether, but I have to use it here. Stieg Larsson did such a fabulous job in his writing. He managed to convey a sense of melancholy, almost like I was watching an old murder mystery TV show in black and white. Once all of the characters are introduced and their personalities become apparent, I couldn't help but be drawn into this strange-to-me world of modern day spies and investigative reporting, computer hackers and the odd intricacies that tie them all together. The whole time I was reading, I had this anticipatory feeling in my gut, always expecting something big to finally be revealed. I knew that somehow, all of these different stories were intertwined, but it took a very long time to figure out how. The two 'main' characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, are each such compelling people. Salander is a wild looking, rebellious weirdo, to put it bluntly. But you can tell that she's really a brilliant weirdo. I was thinking a savant, without the idiot...and the way she's made out, its true. She is just so interesting. She's a leather wearing, tattooed girl who has not a single care for how the world perceives her. She also has no true friends, not one in the world. In fact she spurns all forms of affection apart from basic sex, even from those who truly want to be her friend. She just doesn't care enough to WANT a friend, and doesn't trust enough to give anyone that power even if she had the desire to do so. But she's smart. Brilliant even.Blomkvist is an investigative reporter and part owner of a mildly successful Swedish magazine. In the beginning of the book, we learn that he has just been convicted of libel and sentenced to three months in jail for printing information about a truly bad man that he had no proof for. And he admits, he had no proof. Blomkvist is an honorable man, almost to a fault. Though you don't know this at the beginning, it's more of a feeling that you get as you follow him on his journey throughout the story. In his own way, he is just as complex a character as Salander, only wholly different. He's actually quite the ladies man and for some reason it doesn't come across as skeezy because he's so matter of fact about it. He's not arrogant or proud or even overly confident. He came across to me as a very trustworthy, black and white, comfortably attractive, and a really likeable guy.The mystery of the book, and how it all plays out, is just remarkable. The decades old disappearance of a girl from a prominent Swedish family seems like a cold case. But the old patriarch of the family has never been able to let it go. He knows he doesn't have a long time left on this earth, and this is basically his last chance to find out what happened to his beloved family member. He hires Blumkvist to take on the seemingly impossible task of solving the mystery. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with mysteries that I was so blown away, but looking at the ratings, I see I'm not alone in my opinion. Honestly, I was nothing short of fascinated by this story. Though the ending scene was a bit of a downer, I'm so glad that there is more to the story. I'm hoping that both Salander and Blumkvist both continue to star in the next two books because I just want to stay with both of them longer.