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  • Sep 26, 2009
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Author Stieg Larsson successfully follows up his first installment of the Millenium trilogy, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage)," with a glimpse of the eponymous Lisbeth Salander's sad and misunderstood past in "The Girl Who Played With Fire," a page-turner that keeps the reader entertained and begging for more right until the heroine utters her very last relieved and happy yet slightly cynical acknowledgment of sidekick Mikael Blomkvist's presence.

The two main characters, introduced and thrown together during the solving of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger in the first novel, don't share much page-time together in this second installment. Blomkvist, basking in his triumph over the Wennerstrom group, moves on in his regrouping of his financial magazine to prepare for his publishing coupe of the year: the release of both a book and full edition article on underage prostitution written by a notable journalist and his PhD candidate wife.

With her trademark anger and disgust over her emotional love/attachment for Blomkvist, Salander refuses her love further entry into her life. Always fiercely independent, now, after absconding millions in an exacting act of retaliation from Wennerstrom's private funds, she needs never to work again. But old habits die hard, she cannot help but `tap into' the lives of those she both loves and hates with her incredible computer hacking skills and the ability to mete out punishment with the dreaded vigilance and potentially lethal retribution of a technologically savvy Erinye. While in the midst of not leaving her digital fingerprint on Blomkvist's computer, she comes across a name in one of his files that resonates deeply from her past. Her quest for a connection leads to a triple killing--the journalist, his wife and Dragon Girl's own despicable guardian, Nils Bjurman-whom the reader has learned to hate from the first novel. When her physical fingerprints on the murder weapon link her to the crimes, uber survivor Salander furrows underground even deeper as a full-scale manhunt begins with an even fuller albeit skewed disclosure of her sad history with Sweden's social services.

Author Larsson drives his plot from alternating third person vantage points that give the reader a generalized perspective from a specific corner of the various stratums of Swedish life. We are privy to varying degrees of freedom as demonstrated by the social class exhibited by Larsson's variety of characters; we can actually feel the weight of burden placed upon certain undesirables by the social infrastructure--the skin of which Larsson (now deceased but also a one-time investigative crusader not unlike his main character Blomkvist) obviously enjoys perforating and exposing for its inability to defend the rights of over half the population it is in existence to protect. As Blomkvist rallies to prove Salander's innocence, Larsson expertly flips the scene from one exploited social group to another--urbane journalists, world-weary police, underhanded social workers, sex trade veterans, bisexual punk divas and in a group of her own, hacker extraordinaire, primo victim of the system, his murderously vulnerable Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He creates a wonderful compendium of facts and activities that entertain with a purpose the reader is not likely to forget.

Like all such novels, this one relies on circumstances and coincidences that of course pull the book together as a novel with a beginning, middle and an end. Nonetheless, no matter how thug-like I found the gangster-like repartee at times, it works. Readers will not be disappointed--as this tale unravels it reveals moments of evil and violence that rival in their chilling efficiency and inhumanity the workings of Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lector as he sprang in all his twisted glory on the horror/thriller literary scene in The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lector). Larsson actually refreshes a genre that in its blatancy immunized readers to the horror or actual life.

Bottom line: Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who Played With Fire" gives those fans of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" a huge book with more Blomkvist/Salander adventures. Focusing on the exoneration of Salander for present day murders that link to her past, the reader is in for a treat as some crucial information about her personal history is revealed in the denouement. Great read and satisfying second installment. Some sly critique of Sweden's social services from Larsson's perspective and many gruesome examples of man's abusiveness towards objects of control. Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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review by . April 07, 2012
   Translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland      I was a bit disappointed with how Dragon Tattoo ended.  It took a long time to wrap the Wennerstrom story, and it takes a while for the second book to catch fire as well, but when it does, you will quickly reach a point where you have to finish.  So you do things like spend three hours on a perfectly beautiful Saturday on Easter weekend with errands to run, or yard work to do, or family about, as I did, and …
review by . April 24, 2010
Mia Johansson, a bright young graduate student, is in the final stages of preparing her doctoral thesis on the controversial topic of sex trafficking. Her journalist boyfriend, Dag Svensson, approaches Mikael Blomkvist, the publisher of Millennium magazine, with the idea of extending this research into a series of articles on sex trafficking in Sweden. Knowing that this kind of exposé will reach into the heart of the Russian mafia, white slavery, the exploitation of under-age prostitutes …
review by . June 26, 2010
The Return of Lisabeth Salander
Thankfully book sequels work better than movie sequels. Movie sequels are often cynical and half-baked attempts to cash in a successful movie, and nobody, the directors, writers or actors give a damn about credibility as long as they cash in.      Not true for books, at least not as much. Good writers treat their characters like their children, and would not subject them to the half-assed, hack-style treatment moviemakers do. "The Girl Who Played  With Fire" …
review by . August 17, 2010
Compelling character Lisbeth Salander returns after her exploits in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I was caught up in the story as if I was reading about a friend's daughter and the turmoil that she went through.      Lisbeth is suffering from the emotional toil from the actions in the first story. However, she's still an independent soul and a champion for the injured.      I believe that all readers of mystery novels and brave …
review by . October 16, 2010
This is the second novel in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy, and the sequel to "The Girl with a Dragoon Tattoo." It is not a true sequel as it doesn't deal almost at all with any of the circumstances that were at the root of the plotline in the previous novel. It, however, still has the same main characters, namely the Millennium magazine cofounder and journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the disturbed young woman with incredible intellectual abilities named Lisbeth Salander. …
Quick Tip by . March 13, 2011
At the beginning of this book, the character is strapped to a bed and things are happening to her.   It would be easier for the reader to know in advance that this happened in the past and it is something that the character is remembering.
review by . March 21, 2011
   The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and a worthy sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’m still not sure these are the best books I’ve read, or even nearly the best, but they’re certainly enjoyable. The characters become more real in this book, or at least more complex. I enjoyed seeing Lisbeth building her new life, and the old hurts breaking through to break it down were convincingly revealed with a nice …
review by . July 21, 2010
Lisabeth Salander, whom we met in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, returns to Sweden from a year of living abroad. It has been an interesting time for Lisabeth; she has matured, made some changes in her appearance, and has been working on the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, which states no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation a^n + b^n = c^n for any integer value of n greater than two. Salander is a very complex woman, as we discovered in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. …
review by . July 16, 2010
The huge number of readers who enjoyed Larsson’s first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be thrilled with this one, for the drama and suspense are even better. The main characters are the same with the same interesting idiosyncrasies. The book has the same problems - it is difficult to identify and distinguish the Swedish people’s names and the places because they all sound the same - but this does not distract from enjoying the novel.           &n …
Quick Tip by . March 07, 2011
Gripping and Captivating Trilogy. Lisbeth will entertain you and cause you to want to finish the Trilogy right away. Wonderfully written
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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About this book


Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

About the Author
Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor in chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on antidemocratic, right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
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ISBN-10: 0307269981
ISBN-13: 978-0307269980
Author: Stieg Larsson
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Knopf
Date Published: July 28, 2009 (U.S.)
Format: Hardback
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