The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or Men Who Hate Women as the name is when translated straight from Swedish, is Stieg Larsson's first novel. It is also the first part of his The Millennium Trilogy. Millennium is quite small magazine that is owned by journalist Mikael "Kalle" Blomkvist and his "occational lover" Erika Berger. Millennium is published in Stockholm, the beautiful capital of Sweden.
In the beginning of the book, Mikael Blomkvist gets sentenced to prison for three months for libeling of well-known Swedish business man Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Mikael had been accusing Wennerstrom for many kind of white-collar crimes, but in the end all the evidence falls to pieces for some reason. Mikael pledges for revenge since he thinks the sentence was underserved. Soon he seems to get a change for it, when another business-mogul Henrik Vanger approaches him with and interesting and appealing offer. Vanger wants Mikael to solve a mystery that has become an obsession to Henrik Vanger: what happened to his niece Harriet Vanger forty years ago when she just disappeared without a trace. And if Mikael succeeds, Vanger will give him Wennerstrom's head on a plate. Another job for Mikael is to write a book about Vanger-family and its history. Mikael agrees to take the job and spend a year in Vanger-family's hometown, a little town Hedestad. 300 km north from Stockholm.
Mikael starts his job by inspecting the family history, and soon he finds out that there are skeletons buried in almost every closet he opens. It seems that almost every family member hates each other. There are a lot of weird characters in the family tree and only Henrik Vanger seems to be normal one. Mikael notices as well, that not every family member is keen on the fact that Mikael has started digging the secrets of the family.
While seeking material for his book about Vanger-family, Mikael starts to solve the weird disappeareance of Harriet Vanger. It happened 40 years go, when the whole family was gathered together. In the early afternoon Harriet just disappeared without a trace and nobody had a glue where she had gone. Everything happened in a closed island Hedeby near Hedestad. It's famouse so called "closed-room scenario". Due to car accident, roads out from the island are closed for a day, and during that time Harriet disappears. Nothing points that a crime has happened that can't be ruled either. The whole island is searched through several times but no sign of Harriet is found. Years go by but Harriet's case remains unsolved.
Finally, after working hard for many months, the secrets starts slowly unfold itself. Mikael also finds out that he needs help because there are so much things that need to be researched. Henrik Vanger's lawyer and good friend Dirch Frode tells Mikael about Lisbet Salander, who have been helping Frode and Vanger earlier as well. Lisbet is an extraordinary young woman with a lot of piercings and, a dragon tattoo. Lisbet is a genious with computers and is able to make them anything for herself. She, of course, has her own closets full of skeletons. Through her short life, Lisbet has been dragged from institution to institution. She is used to solve arguments with other people with violence and has emotional problems as well. But she's not stupid, nowhere near...