The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I was really curious about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo after hearing all the buzz about it. Because of some of the subject matter I can't honestly say that I enjoyed reading the novel (it's interesting to note that the original Swedish title translates as "Men Who Hate Women"), but I will say that it is very good.
The multilayered The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines a closed-room murder mystery with financial intrigue, family saga, social commentary, and some truly memorable characters.
The story starts out slow, but overall it is well-paced. While Mikael Blomkvist is the novel's protagonist, his accidental assistant Lisabeth Salander (she of the dragon tattoo) is just as compelling and sympathetic a character. I'm much more interested in what will happen to her in the following books than I am in Blomkvist's future.