a review by Nalini Haynes
The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo by Adam Roberts parodies the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Helltrik Vagner is an aged dragon, mourning the disappearance and probable death of his grand-niece 300 years before. Every year for the past 300 years on the date of her disappearance he has received a dragon tongue in the mail. The police have failed to solve the mysteries of the missing dragon and the dragon tongues. Helltrik enlists the aid of Kaal, a journalist with a reputation for finding things out, but who in fact relies on a researcher, Lizbreath Salamander. Lizbreath and Kaal rapidly become caught up in the Vagner family Saga as they attempt to solve both mysteries.
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably heard of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Not surprisingly, a book with this title is a parody. Roberts does not limit his parody to Larsson’s work, however, but lampoons The Hobbit (again), the Lord of the Rings, democracy, opera, the English language, European and Australian societies, and more.
This is a light read that, at times, reminds me of particular British comedies where a laugh track gurgles alongside actors quibbling about trivialities such as the plural of sheep (sheeps? shap?) At one point I felt a strong sense of deja vu, I half expected the Hitchhikers Guide to interject some trivia to the story. Having said all of that, make no mistake – there is a good degree of creativity in this parody.
I recommend The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo for one of those rainy afternoons that are so common at the moment; curl up with a glass of wine on the couch and relax. If you haven’t read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, at least watch the movie first, though. A must read if you enjoy parodies.
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.