“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson

The sequel to the late Stieg Larsson’s bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire (which I continually want to call “The Girl with Her Hair on Fire” because of the cover art, which has little or no connection to the novel) does that most wonderful of entertaining feats: it improves on the original.

Back again are journalist Mikael Blomkvist and solitary hacker Lisbeth Salander, who is more fascinating than in the first book as readers finally get an explanation for what she means when she refers to “All the Evil.” After being disappointed in Blomkvist at the end of the previous book, Salander travels the world, has some body modification done, solves a mystery and saves a few lives, all before the “real” action of the book begins.

Some suspension of disbelief is required, as there are any number of plot-friendly coincidences throughout the book. These don’t deter, though, from the pleasure of being back in the company of Salander, along with a new cast of supporting characters as a complicated mystery of prostitution, violence and murder unfolds then folds back in on itself.

A great deal of coffee is drunk, and much Billy’s Pan Pizza is eaten as Salander, Blomkvist and others work in parallel and intersecting lines to discover who shot three people in one night, and why. Amazingly, Larsson managed to keep at least four plots running at different paces, and in the end ties them together. My only complaint is that the ending is so abrupt it feels like Larsson left out the final chapter. I know things are likely to be followed up in the final book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. But is isn’t available stateside till May. I clearly understand now why sales from amazon.uk are so brisk, as the New York Times reported last month. I hardly want to wait months to find out what happens after the “end” of this book. Nonetheless, highly recommended as a thumping good read.

Reading now: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. On deck: History of Love by Nicole Krauss, both for Books and Bars.

4 Responses to ““The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson”

  1. MFS Says:

    Hornet’s Nest is available for about $25 from The Book Depository. (Ask me how I know. (*wry grin*))


  2. girldetective Says:

    M, did you deem it a worthwhile expense or can I wait till May?

  3. Elle Says:

    Maybe you can wait till May. I found it a brilliant albeit almost fantascientific book, and the ending is satisfactory to a point, but the thing is, Larsson died just before the third novel came out, and the series was supposed to have ten books! So there are a lot of loose ends that will likely never be tied - is it worth replacing a cliffhanger with loose ends? Apparently there is a completed fourth book on his computer (a Mac, I guess!), which his partner is not releasing because of inheritance disputes with Larsson’s estranged father and brother, plus sketches for the whole series. Ok, I am maybe a little obsessed…

  4. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks for this — now I will go beg or borrow a copy of “Fire”. And since that NYTimes article, I’ve seen copies of the third installment at independent bookstores in California — for $25 dollars or so, not $40. I’ve been wondering if they pushed up the publication date but did not look at where it was published — clearly my inner detective skills are not as honed….!