The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson

Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing expose on social injustice. The Girl Who Played with Fire is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel.
Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, two people are brutally murdered, and the fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.
The first part of the description on the back of this book is entirely false. This novel was not endlessly satisfying. It ends with a wicked cliffhanger, though you can assume that everything will be okay because there is another book after this one, but still. I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers. If I have the next book it’s mostly okay, which thankfully I do have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
I think I enjoyed reading this book more than the first. The Girl Who Played with Fire was so much more exciting starting from the first page. It was much easier to get into because I was already familiar with most of the characters, though I learned in these pages that I didn’t know them as well as I thought. I really liked the fact that the author writes in so many different perspectives. We get to see every aspect of the story and what’s happening in it. He’s wonderfully descriptive and that just sucks me into the story so much more.
I learned so much more about Lisbeth Salander in this book. Every time I learned something new I had to stop for a minute and process. She is by far my favorite character in this series. She is such a complex human and only gets more complex the more we learn about her. She starts the book off traveling around the world carrying a math textbook with her. That was the only hard part to read. I’m definitely not a math person, but reading about her and the way she thinks about the problems was fascinating. She has a photographic memory, but also a determination to understand what she’s reading rather than just remembering the answers. She never does anything she doesn’t want to, as I said in my review of the first book, and that is only reinforced in this one. She has acquired a large sum of money through not totally legal means. She uses this money to make her life significantly better. When she comes back from her travels her life explodes. She goes into hiding and we don’t see things from her point of view for quite a few pages, which drove me nuts with the suspense.
Mikael Blomkvist continues to be a hard-hitting journalist through this book. He’s approached about the opportunity to publish a book about sex trafficking and the fact that it’s not taken seriously by the Swedish government. He’s hesitant at first, but between Dag Svensson, the author of the book, and Erika Berger, one of the other partners at Millennium, he is convinced that if it is to be done, it should be done by them. So they plan a themed magazine for May and at the same time, continue to work on Dag’s book. When all the craziness that’s in this book starts Blomkvist’s passion for the investigation comes out again, he’s determined to prove that Lisbeth is innocent, despite what everyone else is saying about her.
Dag is in a relationship with Mia Johnansson who is studying to be a criminologist and is currently working on her thesis. Her work goes along similar lines to what Dag is writing his book about, but she focuses more on the girls and how they come to be in the sex trade and where things go from there. Through their work together and their work with Millennium, Bombkvist became good friends with the couple. I really liked the couple. They were both dedicated to what they were working on and had a real passion to help these girls and to change the way the Swedish government handles things of this nature.
It was such a shock when the couple is brutally murdered. I literally had to put my book down and freak out to my boyfriend because I couldn’t believe it had just happened. From there the story just gets crazier. Lisbeth is accused of the murders and a third that happened within a close time frame because her fingerprints were found on the weapon. The weapon belonged to her guardian. The media goes crazy with accusations, especially with Lisbeth’s very dramatic history. That was the only part of this book that made me really mad. That everyone that didn’t personally know Lisbeth judged her so immediately and harshly because of a past that was missing quite a few important details. Though the police think her the first suspect and spend enormous amounts of time out looking for Lisbeth, the more evidence they find in this case the more doubt they have that she was involved in the murders. That kind of balanced out the media craziness for me. While yes, the police thought her the prime suspect, they listened to all the evidence they were getting and did eventually figure things out.
The Girl Who Played with Fire was filled with chaos and suspense and never-ending questions up until the very last pages. There are so many investigations going on to solve the murders and others to solely prove Lisbeth’s innocence. I loved the loyalty that was shown to Lisbeth from those few people that she does let into her life. Larsson has a way to pull you in and make you very attached to the characters. I loved every page and I’m very excited to start The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest as soon as I post this review. So far I’ve liked this series very much. If you like murder mysteries this will definitely be your type of series, so go to your local library or bookstore and get them and read them and love them like I do.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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