Oh, what a heart-breaking ending. I won't give it away, I promise. Let me just say this: The last paragraph of Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo broke my heart. And the book was so good that almost from the beginning, I was unable to put it down.
I say almost, because Chapter 1 nearly cost Larsson my readership.
Mikael Blomkvist is a Swedish muckraker, a financial journalist who suffers a devastating judgment in a civil action for libel. He has taken public aim at a Swedish tycoon, and, apparently, misfired. Blomkvist is disgraced and has a brief stint behind bars to pay for his damage to another's reputation. (Can one really be imprisoned in Sweden after losing a civil judgment?) All this nearly lost me at the get-go because I simply lack the financial savvy to grasp what went wrong. I feared for a moment that I was about ready to read a Wall Street pot boiler about derivatives and other imponderables.
How wrong I would have been.
This might be the best thriller I have read in the past several years. The writing is superb, the characters well-drawn and convincing, the plot even: In every way, this book satisfies. Larsson, who died in 2004, was a jeweler among stone masons.
When a retired executive hires Blomkvist to take one last look for a long lost niece, Blomkvist balks. His reputation is in tatters. The prospect for revenge against the man who brought him low is dangled before Blomkvist, and a fat check two. Blomkvist tackles the assignment with surprising results.
Along the way, he meets this strange and quirky girl, this girl with a dragon tattoo. She lurks throughout the book as a presence hard to label, a sort of Everywoman who hurts and throttles against things unseen.
But the ending. I cannot get over the ending. Good lord, please tell me that above the portal of every birthing room there is not a welcoming sign reading "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here." Larsson wrote without illusion. I cherish my illusions. The ending shattered one here. And it hurt.
Read the book. If you don't like it, let me know. I might just refund you the purchase price.