The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

After finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I couldn't wait to read The Girl who Played with Fire. This book was just as exciting and compelling as its predecessor.

The plot was complex, if not quite as 'meaty' as The Dragon Tattoo. We open with Lisbeth Salander travelling around the world with her newly acquired riches, whilst important events that will affect the course of her life unfold back in Sweden. She returns to Sweden and her new multi-million dollar apartment, to find that her guardian Bjurman is plotting his revenge against her. She finds herself the suspect of a triple murder, hiding from the police and hiding from a host of other evil characters that are after her. To complicate matters, the couple that she is accused of murdering have been working with Mikael Blomkvist at Millenium on an expose in relation to the sex trade. Blomkvist believes in Salander's innocence and sets out to help her discover the truth.

Although I want to review this book without comparing it to The Dragon Tattoo, it is very difficult to do so please bare with me.

The plot didn't quite have the zsa zsa zu that its predecessor did. I thought particularly that the link between the sex trade expose and Bjurman was particularly a weak one and took me some time to really understand. Having said that, the storyline still had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. That's the thing I love about these books, the pace.

Similarly to the previous book, it was still Salander that made the book for me. She is one of the most interesting characters that I have come across lately and I loved learning more about her in this book. What we learn in this book goes a long to explaining how it is that she came to be her unusual self, and I understood a bit more how it is that she came to have that 'victim' aura about her despite her apparent strength of character.

Just as the things about the Dragon Tattoo I loved are the same things that I loved about Who Played with Fire, the things I disliked are the same again. In this book, though, my complaints are a little exemplified. There is just so much setting up of the plot that it feels like the book doesn't really get started until half way through. Also, what this book does that the first didn't do quite as badly, is give us lots and lots of useless little details that the reader just doesn't need to be bothered with. Here is a sample of what I mean, and I apologise about the length, Ill try and shorten it a bit:

"At 5.00 in the morning she stopped at the 24-hour 7-Eleven at the top of Hantverkargatan up by Fridhemsplan. She bought an armful of Billy's Pan Pizzas, some milk, bread, cheese and other staples. She bought a morning paper with a headline that fascinated her... She took the number 4 bus back to Sodermalm, where she got off at Rosenlundsgatan and walked home to Mosebacke. She made coffee and had a sandwich before she went to bed
I mean, come on! Do I really need to know all that? No. I don't. And this book is full of it. I get that in real life people go shopping and buy food, but unless it has something to do with the plot, I don't need to know about. It almost feels a bit as if Larsson is just trying to show off how well he knows central Sweden or something. Anyway, this was my biggest complaint about this book.

Again, I find myself writing a review that feels more like a complaint than I mean it to be. I still loved this book, it was so exciting and tense that I couldn't put it down.

Despite it's size I read it in two sittings. I can't wait to get to the third book.


Summary

What kind of read is this?
It is a very dark read, but it is gripping. Don't be put off by it's size either, it is an easy read.

Do I recommend this book?
Without reservation.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Absolutely. This is one that I think will stand up to re-reading.

Star Rating

7 / 8

Brilliant, couldn't put it down. Recommend that you buy it.



Book Details: Paperback, 569 pages, published by MacLehose Press, published in 2009, translated from Swedish to English by Reg Keeland.

5 comments

  1. I have this one already--thanks for sharing!

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  2. Lucky for you, you can start reading the third one straight away! For me I had to wait till it was published which was nearly a year!!!

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  3. TGWTDT made me want to read crime novels - a genre i previously despised - i cant wait to read this one

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  4. i just got my copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire AND The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest yesterday and i can't wait to dig in!

    thanks for the excellent review.

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  5. Hmmm ... well here we differ. I actually liked this one best of the 3. :-)

    But I do agree that there seems to be a lot of unnecessary stuff in the book.

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