Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Girl Who Played with Fire - Steig Larsson

I just finished the second book in "The Girl" series by Steig Larsson, "The Girl Who Played with Fire."

Resurrecting the two main characters from the previous book, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, this suspense novel centers around the death of an investigative journalist and his partner.

He was writing about exposing high-ranking officials who were participating in white slavery while his partner was writing her Ph.D. dissertation on the same topic. Blomkvist's magazine, The Millenium, agrees to publish the book and has retained the journalist on staff.

Interestingly, and a sadly prophetic turn of events, Blomkvist comes to a point in the novel where he must decide whether he will continue to publish the novel despite the deaths of the researcher and author.

In the mean time, Lisbeth is making a new life for herself after Blomkvist broke her hard little heart. Turning 25 and wealthy after hacking into a corrupt corporate mogul's overseas bank accounts, she has stifled her sadistic court-appointed guaridan and has taken to traveling the world over the next year.

But when she returns to Sweden she finds that the court-appointed guardian seems to now be seeking revenge.

I found this book to be far superior to the first one.

First, the translation was better and not so stilted as the first one, making for a more fluid novel. Also, Lisbeth is far more sympathetic in this novel. In the previous novel, she comes off as a bit of an android. Which, is typical if you have Asperger's Syndrome, as she does. In this one, her character starts to losen up and Larsson seems to have found his inner female voice.

In this novel Larsson starts to dissect her personality and delve into her character, all which become pivotal to the mystery.

Brilliantly plotted, I did not have an inkling to the solution until about 3/4's of the way through and then I still was not quite sure how it was all going to end.

This is the second novel in a 6-series set. However, Larrson passed away after finishing the 3rd novel so that all that we have of the remaining 3 are plot outlines.

The remains of his estate and the profits from the novels do not got to his partner of over 10 years since they were not married and he did not leave a will. All of the proceeds from the award-winning novels and the ensuing movies are going to his father and brother, who have felt no compunction to give her anything.

Larrson was a political activist in Sweden, fighting the right-wing extremism and Nazi organizations. An expert in his field, he often lectured around Europe, including Scotland Yard. And avid writer, these books were his first foray into fiction.

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