My initial impression was that, seeing as how the author died before the book was published, there weren't many revisions done, as the publisher couldn't very well change the authors words without his permission. But I wonder if I was just harsh to judge, and possibly some of the halting pace of the beginning was due to the work being translated from Swedish - maybe I just didn't get into the correct meter at first (though I more firmly believe that the beginning just isn't as good as the rest). The plot starts out slow and awkward; the seemly unconnected story-lines are too much so - I spent the first 70 or so pages wondering what the hell was happening.
But when Larsson got into his story-telling groove, things just seemed to flow. The pace quickly picked up, resulting in a very intense, suspenseful murder mystery/detective story. All in all, I thought it was a fun, entertaining read (albeit graphically disturbing and much too violent for my tastes in general), and I look forward to reading the next two books (though I am disappointed that the paperback version of the second book from the same publisher won't be available until mid-March - I'd prefer if my books matched - and I don't particularly want to buy it in hardcover - even used!). :)