Nice Tattoo!

Posted on March 21, 2010

NY Times columnist Frank Rich uses the best-selling novel and just-released movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to tee off on Wall Street and the Senate’s consideration of financial reform in today’s column.  As only Rich can, he focuses on this pop culture phenomenon’s sub-plot of financial wrong doing and the financial press’s credulous complicity with financial manipulations by high-flying moguls.  

It’s true that the libel conviction of one of the series’ protagonists, Mikel Bloomquist, launches the events that lead to his unravelling of a 40-year old murder and the unmasking of a deranged killer.  It also introduces him to the central and compelling character of the story, Lisbeth Salander, a disaffected, punk hacker/feminist avenger who with impunity violates computer privacy.  That her doing so provides critical clues to both the financial and murderous mysteries at the heart of the novel justifies it to the reader, and apparently also to Rich. 

I love this novel and its sequel, and rushed to see the Swedish-made movie on the day it opened in US theaters.  I think Salander is one of the most intriguing characters in modern popular mystery fiction.  But I also think it’s ironic that Rich overlooks her ethical lapses, or perhaps her own unique and personal ethical standards, and focuses instead only on author Stieg Larsson’s rich condemnation of the Swedish financial press.  

Does he support the notion that it takes a thief to catch a thief?