The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original title in Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women") is an award-winning crime novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson, the first in his "Millennium series".
At his death in November 2004, Larsson left three unpublished novels that made up the trilogy. It became a posthumous best-seller in several European countries as well as in the United States. Larsson witnessed the gang rape of a young girl when he was 15. He never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, whose name was Lisbeth – like the young heroine of his books, herself a rape victim, which inspired the theme of sexual violence against women in his books.
This novel supplies a genealogical table to understand the relationships of the five generation-old Vanger family who, in the novel, are under investigation. Robert Dessaix of the Sydney Morning Herald writes:
An epic tale of serial murder and corporate trickery spanning several continents, the novel takes place in complicated international financial fraud and the buried evil past of a wealthy Swedish industrial family. Through its main character, it also references classic forebears of the crime thriller genre while its style mixes aspects of the sub-genres. There are references to Astrid Lindgren, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, as well as Sue Grafton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Val McDermid, Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, and several other key authors of detective novels. A journalist and magazine editor in Stockholm until his death, Larsson reveals a knowledge and enjoyment of both English and American crime fiction. He declared that he wrote his opus for his own pleasure in the evenings after work.
With the exception of the fictional Hedestad, the novel takes place in real Swedish towns. The Millennium magazine featured in the books has characteristics similar to that of Larsson's magazine, Expo, which also had financial difficulties.
Mikael Blomkvist, who publishes the political magazine Millennium in Stockholm, has lost a libel case involving damaging allegations about billionaire Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström, and is sentenced to three months in prison. Blomkvist steps down from his position on the magazine's board of directors. At the same time, he is offered an unlikely freelance assignment by Henrik Vanger, the elderly former CEO of Vanger Enterprises which he accepts — unaware that Vanger has already commissioned a comprehensive investigation into Blomkvist's personal and professional history carried out by gifted private investigator Lisbeth Salander. In her book "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me, Eva Gabrielsson writes, "In the first volume of the trilogy, Henrik Vanger speaks for Stieg when he tells Mikael Blomkvist, 'I've had many enemies over the years. If there's one thing I've learned, it's never get in a fight you're sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you're in a position of strength-- even if you no longer need to strike back.'" Stieg Larsson was a strong believer in a code of ethics and he shows this through characters such as Henrik Vanger and Anders Jonasson.