I think pretty much all I have to say, is that I took this book to the beach and my husband and kids had a hard time getting me to break away for anything except a gin & tonic or an excellent Mr Smith-crafted, ginger cilantro tuna-burger. Also, I started on Saturday and finished on Tuesday. Hot-damn I loved this book.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on meth; my heart was racing, and I didn’t need to sleep. In the way the first book was fueled by sandwiches and had a slow, almost leisurely pace, this one is fueled by espresso and keeps you riveted straight through to the ending, that isn’t the ending at all.
Larsson starts by catching up with everyone, one year after the Wennerstrom Affair exploded and then takes off on the story we all really wanted to know, namely, how the hell-o did Lisbeth Salander get to be like that?
The first third of the book travels around the world with Lisbeth as we watch her recover and grow, while she gets the chance to enjoy life a little after her “financial opportunity” from her Wennerstrom investments comes through in spades. Once she gets back to Sweden, looking more grown-up and dressing less like a “satanist lesbian murderer,” she has to check in with her guardian, Advokat Bjurman who’s been up to no good as usual. She lets him know she’s fully aware of all he’s been up to, which only makes him more determined to get rid of her for good.
Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist is enjoying a measure of success at Millennium and though he wonders what happened to Lisbeth, he’s got plenty on his plate, most importantly, a special issue of the magazine focused on human trafficking through organized gangs and how law enforcement and the judicial system are failing and are often complicit in harming it’s victims. It’s those men who hate women again. When the journalist who is writing the story and his wife, an academic who has written her dissertation on the subject, are murdered, it sets off a chain of events that involve everyone in the Millennium universe, Lisbeth included, and for her, in a particularly nasty and unexpected way. (I am proud to say, I figured out this twist before it was revealed.)
The story is tightly wound, expertly told and has just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the pages moving. Again, I have to give kudos to the translator for keeping the tone and dialog suitably Nordic.
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good detective story, it’s got perfect noir cred and wouldn’t disappoint even the most jaded reader. Also, be sure you have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest close by, so you can pick it up as soon as you finish The Girl Who Played with Fire. I foolishly left it at home and couldn’t start the third installment until a full five days later and it was killing me!