Girl Who Played With Fire 3.5 out of 4 stars
Steig Larsson’s newest novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is an unconventional murder-mystery that contains a diverse and complex cast of characters. The book is the second in the internationally best-selling Millennium series and the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Although it is not crucial to read the books in the order they were written, the first book provides a solid foundation for the dynamic characters. Additionally, Larsson often references events in the first book that might confuse new readers who have not read the entire series. Although Larsson spends a small amount of time explaining some of the situations that occurred in the past book, The Girl Who Played with Fire is much less confusing to those who have read its prequel.
The Girl Who Played with Fire focuses on Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant, quirky and socially unacceptable computer hacker who has a very troubled past. The book dives into the mysteries of her extremely dark past and reveals the traumatic incident that happened in her early teens and left her to be bounced around psychiatrist clinics and foster homes.
The novel is written so that each chapter covers a time period, usually anywhere from couple of days to a couple of weeks.
Within each chapter there are several breaks and each time this occurs, Larsson switches to a different plotline. Salander is coping with her past by taking up an interest in esoteric math.
Meanwhile, some shady characters who are connected with Salander’s legal guardian, Nils Erik Bjurman, arise. In the last book, Bjurman was revealed to be a sexual predator who attacked Salander, which lead to her revenge where she undermined Bjurman’s authority by having him slowly apply for her release of guardenship. Now, Bjurman is seeking blood, and his methods and connections lead to some very big trouble.
As this is happening, another character in the series, Mikael Bloomkivst, is trying to publish an issue about sex trafficking.
The magazine would reveal key people involved in the prostitution ring. Two of the reporters are found murdered.
Matters get even more twisted and interesting when the murder weapon is discovered to be Bjurman’s, with Salander’s prints on it. Bjurman is then found murdered in his apartment, and Salander becomes the chief suspect and the victim of a manhunt. The police are guided by misinformation which leads them to believe that Salander is a mentally unstable prostitute.
Once again, people misjudge Salander, who is far from being mentally unstable. Larsson characterizes Salander as a witty character with no notions of how to function in a social setting and a strong, unconventional sense of justice. †She has a never-die attitude and a knack for surviving in tough situations.
Salander is easily the most odd and entertaining heroine to emerge in crime fiction. †
This novel is gripping because Larsson manages to draw so many parallels among the different plotlines without losing the tension. What at first appears to be a book about the crimes of a prostitution trade turns into a murder-mystery novel. Secrets are either hidden in the grimy crimes or behind doors that only the hacker, Salander, can open.
It is no surprise this novel is an international bestseller. The Girl Who Played with Fire appeals to many different types of readers and captures their interest with the realistically bizarre characters and multiple plotlines.