The Girl Who Played With Fire
Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about sex trafficking in Sweden are murdered, and Salander's prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her.
Reviewed on 3rd March 2010
This book is weird. Like its predecessor there is a mystery that the journalist is setting out to solve, but this time Salander has become the suspect rather than the investigator, and the reader is stuck in an awkward position of not knowing the truth. Unlike a traditional mystery, the actual clues are nowhere to be seen, and the actual conclusions rely on insider knowledge that is unavailable to the reader - rendering it lacking in a sense of interactivity.
The beginning is again a slow starter, taking quite a while to get into the actual meat of the plot. The way that the first book ended forces certain events at the start which seem unrealistic, although prove to be vital to a couple of later story points. The beginning also follows the first volumes habit of product placement, which while adding a Swedish focus still distracts from the narrative. Fortunately the author seems to get bored of this style fairly quickly and the brand names become slightly thinner on the ground. Another strange aspect of Larsson's style is an over-reliance on long lists.
The main focus of the novel, once we finally get to it, is actually Salander's backstory. Despite this, the narrative is aligned with many more points of view than in the first novel, including both friend and foe, which makes for a richer understanding of what's going on, particularly where a strange sense of suspense requires one character to disappear from the reader for significant portion of the book. There are some elements though which make you wonder 'why was this not mentioned before?'
Is it a good book. Yes, I enjoyed it, but I don't think it's as good as the original. It's quite a different concept plot-wise, being much more a character piece than a mystery, but still worth a read. The ending of this one is at polar opposites to the first, which made an effort to tidy up the lose ends and let you know how the characters got on. This one is abrupt and almost disappointing, and clearly leaves things hanging for book three.