October 11, 2014

Book: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 2:34 pm

imagesThis is the second volume in the Millennium series that took the publishing world by storm. We  reviewed the first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, earlier. The story continues in this one. It is great if you have read the first one already and this is the recommended way to read this book, but the story stands alone, and you can read this book even if you have not read the first one yet. You miss some nuances but the story does stand alone in this one.


A powerful prologue, as in the first book, enough to pique your curiosity right away.


Lisbeth Salander, the near genius investigator introduced in the first book and is the protoganist named in the title of each of the books in the series, is on vacation in Grenada where a couple next door seem to have quarrels and the husband seems to beat the wife daily. When she realizes that he is planning to kill her in the midst of storm Matilda, she thwarts his plans and saves the wife.


In the meanwhile, advocate Bjurman is seething for revenge for the humiliation he suffered (described in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) at Salander’s hands. (This is an example of the colour you miss if you have skipped the earlier book).


Blomkvist is planning another explosive novel, this time about the sex trade in Sweden with the help of an author, Dag Svensson, who researched the story. In the meanwhile he is having sex with Herriet Vangar, Salander has lesbian sex with earlier friend Mimi. In fact in Swedish novels, they want to have sex with everyone they meet, older, younger, does not seem to matter.

Bjurman, meanwhile, has hired a blond giant to kill Salander.


Salander meets her ex boss and offers to do “interesting stuff” only.


You meet the Indian doctor called Sivarnandan and think ‘Here is a cliché again. Indian medic!) And a slight misspelling of the name, with an unnecessary ‘r’ in the middle, though she got the nationality (Sri Lankan) right.


This book is more preachy – see the plight of immigrants; how badly Sweden treats them; and so on and so forth. Then there is the show of  ‘I have inclusive employees including Karim’ (who is portrayed as a female!) etc. Gets tiresome.


Dag Svensson was working on an expose of human trafficking of immigrants and his girlfriend Mia Johanssen was working on her doctoral thesis on the same subject. As it happens, they are both visited by Salander, and a short time later, Blomkvist makes a visit to their house to talk about the book and the publication and finds them both dead. They have been murdered.


As Blomkvist exits their house, he finds Salander being attacked. Salander knows it is Bjurman’s doing.


When the murder weapon is also found in the stairwell with Lisbeth’s fingerprints (and Bjurman’s) and later, Bjurman found dead (head blown off ) in his own apartment, Lisbeth becomes the prime suspect. Both Armansky and Blomkvist are beyond astonishment.

Mariam Wu, the lesbian friend of Salander gets dragged into the resulting nationwide frenzy.

The back story of the Blond giant is fabulous.


Mariam Wu is kidnapped by a blond giant, but boxer Paolo Roberto rescues her at great cost to himself and her (broker ribs, broken nose, fractured arm and leg etc) Than Salander faces the thugs Magge Lundin (the portly ponytailed man who attacked her earlier and was unsuccessful – Blomkvist tried to come to her aid too) and Sonny Nieminen, a vicious thug, and brutalizes them both. The scene is fantastic, and shows why Stieg has such a reputation as a storyteller.


Meanwhile there is a lot of information coming to light on the nebulous Zala, who seems to be a mysterious central figure in all this.


The whole background story about Zala is explosive and I do not want to give it away because it will be a big spoiler for those of you who have not read this book and the blond giant is also involved in this.


All right, I will admit that it is a little bit like James Bond with super villains and giant sidekicks and what not, but the storytelling, the building of the suspense and the resolution of the tough situations are so well done that it still reads very well.


Tense ending. Nicely done.


As good as the first one, at least, and in my opinion, better, despite the brief preachy tone in the beginning.


I will give it a 8/10


  • – Krishna




1 Comment »

  1. […] Kirby – The Godfather of Modern Comics. Bookspluslife has a review of one of my favorite books, The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg […]

    Pingback by Week in review, week ending 10/12/14 | Random thoughts of 210Darryl — October 12, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

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