The Girl Who Played with Fire: Smokin’ Read

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  was a favorite of mine last year (reveiwed here a few months ago).  A generous friend who read my review handed me a copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire soon after it was published. I devoured that one in a couple of sessions, and pondered again how much I wish Stieg Larsson were alive and still writing. Really engaging thrillers—ones with intriguing characters, an unusual setting, a fast pace, but also some social or political issues of interest, and a high quality of writing—are not so common. Sometimes I imagine there are dozens of them on our shelves, just waiting until I have some free time to settle in with a great book.  And then, as I browse, I find that many of them are just not so great. The Girl Who Played with Fire is as riveting as the first entry, with more of the back story on Lisbeth Salander, the fascinating protagonist of the series, who lives by her own moral code, snooping at will through computers and standing off against some truly scary villains. Her history is compelling, and gives us sympathy with her even as she sometimes seems to care little for other people. Her utter refusal to give in or lose is really fun to see played out. Larsson brings in the world of journalism with the character of Mikael Bloomqvist, the clever investigative reporter who happened into partnership with Salander in the first novel, and who spends most of this one chasing her shadow. The final installment, The Girl Who  Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is due out in May of 2010. I will be in a quandary—once I read it, the series is over for me. (If you missed the story, Stieg Larsson, a Swedish journalist, submitted the manuscripts for the three novels, but died before the first was published.) If you like edgy, fast-paced thrillers with a lot of style and you haven’t read this series, you have some fun in store.

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