I don't know anything about Swedish writing, or any Swedish writer other than Astrid Lindgren, and now Larsson. Not sure if it's a particularly good translation, or a certain universality of modern Western language/concepts, but I was struck by how well his world translated into English. In any case, this starts out pretty much as a well-written but otherwise fairly unremarkable murder mystery. Larsson weaves three separate elements - Blomqvist's own libel trial and the subsequent complications caused for the magazine he co-publishes, his freelance gig looking into the Vanger family and the 40-year-old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, and the ever-so-complicated Lisbeth Salander, punk hacker savant and misfit - into what turns into a cohesive page-turner, in a sneakily skillful manner (did anyone but me have a little difficulty getting into the story, but then find themselves staying up 'til all hours to finish it?) It really did rise well above most mysteries I've read recently.
Note: NOT for those triggered by descriptions of violence against women. The original Swedish title was "Men Who Hate Women", and there's a good deal of that here. The occasional gruesome aspects of the book are initially treated with a journalistic distance, but there is one section in particular, toward the end, that was very difficult to read. That said, it was blessedly brief, unlike so many police procedurals lately (I'm thinking in particular of the writing of Kathy Reichs) that just WALLOW in the gore - and I feel those few graphic pages here are necessary to the story, rather than just so much casually violent window dressing.