The Girl Who Played With Fire

By Stieg Larsson

The Short Take:

A real page turner. Even better than Larsson’s first book — and I really liked the first one. Plus, who wouldn’t love a heroine who knows how to take care of herself like Lisbeth Salander?


I must admit the first hundred or so pages don’t have much to do with the story — though they do give you a more naunced picture of “The Girl,” Lisbeth Salander. But after that the real tension and drama set in with a vengence and never let up until the final word. Literally.

In Salander, Larsson has developed the perfect heroine for the 21st century. Her social ineptness and prickly personality are offset by a brilliant mind. Her waif-like figure disguises a tiger’s ferocity. Every element balances just so to create a compelling character that you can’t help but root for. Good thing, too, because Salander holds the center stage in this sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The focal character of Larsson’s first book, Mikael Blomkvist, loses ground in this outing. But then, who wouldn’t look diminished next to the white-hot Salander. Trust me, you won’t mind his smaller role.

The translation (from the original Swedish) doesn’t have the issues I had with Larsson’s first outing, even though the same translator was used. This book is a much smoother read. There was none of the sometimes clunky wording of the original outing.

While you can read this book and enjoy it without reading Larsson’s first book, I don’t really recommend it. After all, why not double your pleasure?

A Little Plot:

Salander tours the world, sets herself up in a plush apartment, and wonders what to do with her life. Unfortunately, someone else has other plans. A former guardian that she humiliated — naw, she squashed him like a bug after he raped her — is out to get revenge.

Meanwhile Blomkvist and crew are getting ready to publish an expose on the Swedish sex trade and the women it exploits — naming names of important johns. When the authors are murdered, fingerprints connect Salander with the crime. Now two powerful forces are after Salander — the police, who are convinced of her guilt, and the gangsters her former guardian has recruited.

Plot surprises abound. So does danger. And the author keeps you guessing about the depth of Salander’s involvement — and her guilt.

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