Tuesday 30 November 2010

Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played With Fire

Second in the Millennium Trilogy, the astonishing set of works from Stieg Larsson. Like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, this fully justifies the hype as it continues the adventures of crusading journalist Blomqvist and the anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander. Blomqvist is working on an exposé of the sex trafficking industry in Sweden, dragged deeper in after the murder of the journalists who began the investigation. Salander is implicated in those murders and goes on the run.

Larsson again weaves the pain of Lisbeth Salander around the slightly calmer journalistic happenings and we learn more about the horrendous mistreatment of Salander through the years. Abused as a child at home, abused in institutions, she has developed coping mechanisms and skills that confuse the authorities but serve to shield her and save her life. Now she cares little for society and less for the fate of those who are directly trying to harm her. The police hunt for her, initially mistaken and ultimately corrupt, is almost another plotline as she continues on her way, deciding her own directions whenever able.

The writing is gripping, the pace is relentless, the characters are finely limned. There's a thriller here, a detective novel, a walk through the Swedish justice system and a morality tale. Though very much a Swedish novel this will appeal to anyone who likes their books intelligent and demanding. One caveat: you are much better reading this after The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

See The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- The Book and The Movies for a discussion of books and both Swedish and US movies.


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