Sherry's Reviews > The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
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's review
Jan 15, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2010

The past returns to haunt one of the most intriguing characters in recent fiction, Lisbeth Kalander, in the second book in Stieg Larsson’s series. The story starts slowly, but for the last third of the book, the pages can’t turn fast enough. Brilliant yet socially inept, Kalander used her computer hacking skills to assist discredited journalist Mikael Blomqvist in his quest to restore his name and bring down the bad guys in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” In “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” Blomqvist and the crew at Millennium magazine are about to publish another explosive exposé when all hell breaks loose. In the aftermath, Kalander has to fight for her freedom and her life, as events from the first book have implications for the second. Kalander has an interesting group of supporters who crop up and a bungling police squad searching for her, both of which come in handy. Along the way, her past is uncovered and her secrets revealed—sometimes even to her.

This book carries both the strengths and the weaknesses of its predecessor. Although the translation is occasionally clunky, especially in descriptive passages, the translator has done a fine job making the Swedish references accessible to the American reader. Unfortunately, there is a sameness to the Swedish names that is often confusing, especially as the pace picks up. The misogynistic tone intensifies in this book, almost unbearably at times. Kalander’s breast-enhancement surgery strikes an off note. And as fabulous as this heroine is, the last chapter or so of the book stretches credulity beyond the breaking point.

The fact that Stieg Larsson died immediately after delivering the three books in this series to the publisher means that he did not edit the manuscripts. This is painfully obvious partway through the book when a key sequence is unnecessarily repeated from a second viewpoint. The sad irony is that in the story, Mikael Blomqvist finds himself struggling as an editor in a similar position.

Still, the book provides rip-roaring action, gripping suspense, and characters whose flaws make them as interesting as they are frustrating. There is plenty left to resolve in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” and the revelations of “The Girl Who Played with Fire” will leave Larsson fans anxious for more.

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