16 July 2010

Books: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (2009)

The Girl Who Played With Fire picks up almost two years after the events of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and we find Lisbeth Salander -who was more of a secondary character in the first book - becoming central to the complex plot of the second. Now flush with money she stole, Lisbeth has started to change her life. But when she returns home, she finds -as many do - that it's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.

As it happens, Mikael Blomkvist and his magazine Millennium have hired a couple who are researching the sex trade in Sweden. When the two are murdered, it appears Lisbeth Salander is connected to them -her fingerprints are on the gun that killed them. She is also wanted for the murder of the man who was responsible for her, Nils Bjurman. Her guardian raped her in the first book, only to be punished by Salander herself - she gave him a humiliating, homemade tattoo. Since then, Bjurman has been plotting revenge. Not as smart as Lisbeth, but very clever, Bjurman is planning to have her taken out by a hitman -which leads to his death.

Blomkvist is convinced she is innocent, despite the fact that he has not seen her since the events of the first book. Slowly, he begins his own investigation as to why the couple was murdered, supplying information to Lisbeth through his computer -she being the expert hacker, they begin a slow reconciliation.

As the plot unwinds, the back story of Salander is revealed.

This second novel relies a lot on coincidence, but Larsson has created real characters that are complex, believable and appealing, so you can forgive him for that. Lisbeth Salander maybe a bit cartoonish - even actress Noomi Rapace who played Salander in the three Swedish movies based on this series told Buzzine “it’s hard to believe that she can do all of these things, especially since she’s small, anorexic, only eats junk food and smokes all the time, yet Lisbeth can fight ten guys and win." - but you have to like her, even when she makes poor decisions.

The sad aspect maybe is that Stieg Larsson never lived to see how popular these thrillers would become all over the world, and not just his own country of Sweden. His death at age 50 in 2004 has left the world wondering what he could have really done, yet his gift to the world may be these three thrillers (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is next). Recent articles seem to indicate a fourth novel was nearly completed when he died, with a potential fifth and sixth volume to come. I wonder if they’ll ever see the light of day.

No comments: