The Girl Who Played With Fire

Written By: Stieg Larsson

Published By: Vintage

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Having enjoyed the movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the book that inspired the film, I decided that I should delve further into the Millennium Trilogy of novels by Stieg Larsson.  I decided to get hold of the second novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, before the American adapted movie hit theaters.

                When we last left Lisbeth Salander, she had made billions after helping journalist Mikael Blomkvist expose industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström for the criminal he is.  Unfortunately, her relationship with Blomkvist suffers when she learns that he has continued his affair with his magazine’s editor in chief.  She decides to drop Blomkvist from her life, using her newfound riches to make some physical improvements, travel, purchase and furnish a new apartment and create a new life for herself.

                But some things never change – while in Grenada, Salander finds herself protecting a woman from her abusive husband…in a very aggressive manner.  It’s her interest in protecting abused women that brings her close to Blomkvist once more.  Apparently, Blomkvist has been working with a young journalist named Dag Svensson and his criminalist girlfriend Mia Johanssen in their quest to expose key figures in the sex trafficking business in Sweden.  Salander seeks Svensson and Johanssen out when she realizes that they are on the trail of a mysterious major player in the industry named Zala, someone from Lisbeth Salander’s extremely troubled past.

                When Dag and Mia are murdered, Lisbeth’s prints on the murder weapon and her violent past make her a prime suspect.  And when her guardian, rapist and sexual deviate Nils Bjurman, is also found murdered, Lisbeth Salander becomes one of the most hunted individuals in Sweden.  Blomkvist, believing Salander innocent, makes it his mission to clear her name…whether Salander wants his help or not.

                I loved how this novel played out.  Lisbeth Salander has become one of my favorite murder mystery characters and I think it's a shame that Larsson didn't live long enough to create more stories involving Lisbeth and Blomkvist.  The plot is cleverly written and the story, characters and action are intoxicating.  Every time I had to put the book down I let out a groan of misery, wanting to find out what happens next, but knowing that a body does not do well without sleep. 

                Fans of Lisbeth will love learning more about her character and this novel contains quite a few stunning revelations about Lisbeth's past.  Lisbeth does a lot of maturing in this novel thanks to her new monetary responsibilities, the responsibility she feels toward her former guardian and the re-emergence of one of the demons from her past.  The action involving Lisbeth is intense and I found myself wondering more than once whether she would make it, even rooting for her out loud, much to the chagrin of everyone around me.

                The Girl Who Played With Fire is an incredibly fast read and I found myself finished with the novel in only a couple of days.  Larsson ends the novel quite an almost cinematic approach - I won't reveal the ending, but I found it to be absolutely perfect.  I can't wait to read the last novel in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.


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