Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: "The Girl Who Played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson

You've got to love books that make you stay up as late as necessary to finish them. Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire, second in the "Millennium Trilogy," was one of those books for me. And much like many other series of novels I've read, Larsson definitely hit his stride with this book. While the first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was tremendously gripping and well-written, it definitely suffered a bit from an overload of details that didn't necessarily move the plot forward. But this book, while starting a bit slow, was definitely stronger than its predecessor.

Reporter Mikael Blomkvist is working with a freelance journalist on an article and book exposing sex trafficking in Sweden, a problem that has reached epidemic proportions and involved politicians, judges and policemen. Just before the article and book are to be published, the journalist and his girlfriend (on whose doctoral dissertation the exposé is based) are murdered. The suspect in these brutal murders, as well as one additional murder, is Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist's socially awkward yet brilliant sometime-friend and researcher. Blomkvist is convinced of Salander's innocence even while the facts against her are mounting, and he defies the police and other enemies to try and figure out who really murdered his friends, while at the same time, forces from Salander's past are trying to remove her from the picture for good.

This book read like a movie, so it's not surprising to know that Swedish films have now been made of the first two books, and an American adaptation of the series is in final casting stages now. The action is great, some of the twists actually made me gasp, and Larsson never lets his main characters be one-dimensional. If you're like me and usually shy away from the books everyone else on Earth is reading, take my advice: read this one.

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