Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Onto the second book in the Millennium Trilogy. I wasn’t blown away by the first but enjoyed it enough to want to at least read this second one. It follows a young, enigmatic woman with genius intellect who by most standards has had a horrific life. Brought in as a condition of an investigation (the first book), she continues working with Blomqvist and his now resurging Millennium magazine.

This time, Blomqvist is attempting to blow open a secretive sex trafficking ring bringing girls as young as 15 to Sweden from some of the former Soviet Baltic states. The problem is, as he probes a little deeper and sees the extent of the problem, he realises that government officials, business leaders and some other very powerful people are involved and they will not take too kindly to having their own involvement exposed. Has Blomqvist bitten off more than he can chew this time? When two reporters are murdered, it seems he has.

Meanwhile, Lisbeth is trying to carve out some semblance of a normal life. She buys herself a home, furnishes it and does other domestic-y type stuff. In any other book, this would a dull distraction but because we know what she has been through and what a big step it is for this intriguing yet often icy young woman, it’s very much part of the plot and a fascinating one too. This story is more about Lisbeth and for good reason – with the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager, naturally much of the plot and the investigation hits a raw nerve – forcing her to confront her own experiences. When she herself becomes a suspect, it throws the story wide open.

This was a far less easy read than the first. It’s never an easy subject to read about and it’s easy to cross the line into “misery porn”. Thankfully, it doesn’t cross that line. It remains a visceral insight into the illegal sex trade and is just as brutal as the first book.

In some ways, I found this an easier read than the first – perhaps it was an adjustment to the style, but it’s also true that the story moved quicker without being bogged down in too much detail too early on. It flowed nicely as well, as you would expect a second book to do.

My only real gripe is the flat tone. As I said with the first, I’m not sure whether it is Larsson’s writing style or simply bland translation. Uninspired writing usually puts me off, but a gripping plot can often help dilute that.



4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

  1. fillyourownglass

    I definitely found the second and third books read faster than the first. The more in-depth view we get of Lisbeth’s past the more intriguing the story becomes.

  2. cjmoseley

    I read them sometime ago (2008/09). A clue to the style of the translation might be that according to the wiki, the translator said the publisher unnecessarily ‘prettified’ the text and so he insisted on a pseudonym. Although faults aside, I do remember enjoying all three.

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