Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 570
This book is the second book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and whilst it is true that it follows on from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the series, it isn’t necessary for you to read that before moving on to this one. In fact, I thought that this book was better than the first, and it’s got me excited to read the next one and to see how it all turns out.
In this book, Lizbeth Salander is on the run after being accused of murder, and Mikael Blomkvist, the reporter from Millennium magazine that she encountered in the first book, is determined to get to the bottom of what actually happened. And, as you might except from a Stieg Larsson novel, it’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. Part of that is because you get to see the investigation from multiple points of view, and each character has their own thought process and their own thoughts and feelings.
Larsson’s writing is convincing and absorbing, and even though the brutal onslaught of technology has continued its relentless pace since his tragic death, and since the books were published, they still feel realistic and easy to imagine. Here and there, I picked up on the odd reference to technology that’s now obsolete. but overall, it’s aged pretty well.
One of the interesting things about this book is that Salander and Blomkvist never come face to face, at least not until (minor spoiler) the end. They communicate through computers from time to time, but they don’t have a face to face. It’s not necessarily relevant to the plot, but it is interesting as a sort of summation of the book – it almost feels like the purpose here is to showcase each of the characters as an individual entity, and Larsson does a good job of making each of them feel like a real person that you’ve known and loved.
It also ends on something of a cliffhanger, and despite its length it’s pretty easy to whizz through. I had a quick break to read one other book before starting straight away on the next one, and I have no regrets. After all, the writing is good, the story is good, and the book as a whole is a cracker, and definitely worth reading and sticking with.
Some people seem to think that Larsson’s work is too bloody and severe, and that it’s a gritty type of crime novel that can be uncomfortable read. Perhaps I’ve been desensitised, because I read a wide variety of different books from different publishers and authors, but I didn’t really see that – it felt pretty standard to me, and that’s a good thing. It wasn’t particularly extreme, and there are certainly worse things on television and in film.
If you like realistic crime novels, then you’re likely to like this book, but if CSI is too much for you then this will be, too. There are references to drugs and prostitution is a key part 0f the story line, but it’s the sort of book that treats the subjects with respect and which depicts them in a realistic manner. Overall, it’s hard to fault this book – read it.