The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006) by Stieg Larsson
Hardcover, Knopf, 512 p.
Earlier this year I reviewed Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in this blog. I liked that novel but was not super interested in reading the sequel(s). Nevertheless, when a friend offered up the newly released translation I cleared my reading list for it.
This book is again about the two characters from the previous one. Mikael Blomkvist — crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium — has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.
On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander, the savant from the previous novel.
Now, as Blomkvist — alone in his belief in her innocence — plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.
Again, the story is gripping and immensely readable. Like, say, an author such as Stephen King the writing seems super simple but flows well and is structured in such a way as to make you gobble up the pages.
In the first book, Salander was a secret expert at all sorts of skills that helped her and Mikael solve the mystery. This time though she is like some James Bondian super savant. It turns out that in addition to her amazing computer 'hacking' skill she is a boxer, lockpicker, and has a photographic memory. From the events of last book she has also now become very wealthy and buys a massive 20 roomed apartment. Larsson does things like giving a minutely itemized list of the Ikea furniture that she buys for the place. It all becomes a bit distracting and unnecessary.