Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)

The Girl who Played with Fire is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced us to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  Blomkvist is a journalist who uncovered a huge corporate scandal as well as a dark secret within the Vanger family.  Lisbeth is a "researcher" Blomkvist hired to assist him with his investigation.  She is actually a hacker with a photographic memory and a genius level IQ, but she has a very troubled past.

This installment starts out innocently enough with Mikael and his magazine, Millennium, getting ready to publish another ground breaking piece involving sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and Sweden.  They are collaborating with a journalist, Dag Svensson, and his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, who is completing her thesis on the subject.  They plan on publishing an entire issue of the magazine devoted to the topic as well as Dag's book, which will expose several prominent figures in the community.

The publication is put on hold when it is discovered that Mia and Dag have been murdered.  Lisbeth is considered the prime suspect because her fingerprints are on the murder weapon, but Blomkvist insists the murders must be related to what the couple had been working on.  The murderer has to be one of the individuals they were getting ready to expose in Dag's book, but the police and media are dead set on finding and convicting Salander.

The remainder of the book is a brilliantly woven investigation into the murders of Mia and Dag, which simultaneously digs deep into Salander's past.  We discover why she was considered incompetent as a minor, institutionalized and ultimately placed in the custody of a legal guardian.  It should have been clear to anyone who met Salander that she is far from incompetent, but she does struggle with aggressive behavior and lacks social skills.

Salander communicates with Blomkvist throughout the book via messages delivered to his hard drive.  She hacks into his system and he responds with a corresponding word document left in a folder on his desktop.  Together they put together the pieces Mia and Dag had been missing, why they were murdered, and who was responsible.

I never would have guessed who was behind "all the evil" as Lisbeth so accurately described it.  Once the individual is identified, it becomes clear the danger Salander and Blomkvist are in and what must be done if either of them plan on coming out of this alive.

I was completely shocked by the way Larsson chose to end this novel.  There is a third book in the series, which I assume will tie up loose ends, but we are left hanging in the balance.  I though for sure there would be an epilogue or something to explain what happens after the final scene, but that was not the case.  I guess I will need to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest sooner than I was originally planning.

This is an extremely well written murder mystery.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and would highly recommend it to adult readers.  The subject matter is NOT suitable for children.  There is a considerable amount of adult language and content that I would probably classify as NC-17 if this were a movie.

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