I was late in picking up the two first books of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy and when I did I decided to leave them for the beach. I can now assure you that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is much more than a summer page-turner.
The story flows effortlessly yet is full of unexpected turns. Looking back one can only admit that, although he did not see it coming, the outcome was to be expected. No suspension of disbelief required here, the story could easily have been taken from news-reports. Larsson was a master of understanding human nature and life's minute nuisances.
What is more, this book reminded me of the good old classics that contained a healthy dose of moral lessons within their gripping story. Good literature should entertain as much as it make you think and examine your life and self.
The only thing I regret is not being able to read Larsson in the original Swedish (reading from translation is always a handicap) but as far as I can tell the translation (by Steven T. Murray, under the nom-de-plume of Reg Keeland) is fluid and very well done. No awkward phrasing or translation artifacts that would gum up the experience. The book might as well have been written in English.
I would strongly advise against watching the movie(s) first (and if you do so, try to avoid the Hollywood version with Daniel Grieg altogether!). The Swedish trilogy of movies are well done but they simply pale compared to the books.
It is very unfortunate that Larsson died so young. He would have had a stellar career as a writer in front of him. Non the less, his Millenium Trilogy is what he will be remembered by.