Stieg Larsson gleaned a remarkable degree of success before his too-early death in 2004. He had delivered to his publisher three remarkable crime novels; the initial book in his ‘Millennium’ sequence, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
, had enjoyed an unprecedented success in his native Sweden before the translation took the UK by storm. Larsson had made a considerable mark as a crusading journalist, with a speciality in tackling political extremist groups. But he offered assistance to many people and groups who he felt were vulnerable – something of a modern hero, in fact.
One of Larsson's key achievements as a writer was to create an innovative kind of heroine for the crime novel. His unconventional sleuth, the highly intelligent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, is a confrontational young woman, whose Goth accoutrements sometimes alienate those around her (except the individuals she opts to have sexual relations with – strictly, that is, according to the rules she lays down). In the second book in the Millennium sequence, The Girl Who Played with Fire (as in its its predecessor), Lisbeth's closest ally is the older journalist Mikael Blomqvist, even though she has abruptly ended her emotional relationship with him. Lisbeth has left all she knows behinds her and has begun a relationship with a gauche young lover. But after a grim revenge run-in with a man who has abused her, she becomes a suspect in three murders, and is the subject of a nationwide search. Blomqvist, however, is convinced of her innocence (he has just been responsible for a blistering report on the sex trafficking industry in Sweden), and is determined to help her – whether she wants his help or not.
As with Larsson’s earlier book, this is highly compelling fare, with tautly orchestrated suspense; it's often grisly and uncompromising (not a problem for many readers), and the massive text may be longer than is good for it, but Larsson admirers won't begrudge the late author a word,and will be impatient for the third (and, regrettably, concluding) book in the sequence. --Barry Forshaw
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“The Girl Who Played with Fire
will likely confirm Larsson’s position as the most successful crime novelist in the world.”
“Larsson has bottled lightning . . . Formally at least, The Girl Who Played with Fire
is a muscle car. But a European engine purrs beneath its hood . . . It
buzzes with ideas [and] fizzes with fury.”
–Los Angeles Times
“A dynamite thriller.”
–Liz Smith, Variety
“These books grabbed me and kept me reading with eyes wide open with the same force as the best of the series on the TV monitor . . . Move over, Tony Soprano . . . Blomkvist is a wonderfully appealing character. And the girl of the title is one of the most fascinating characters in modern genre fiction.”
–Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
“A nail-biting tale of murder and cover-ups in which the victims are tantalizingly hard to distinguish from the villains. . . Believe the hype . . . It’s gripping stuff.”
“Another gripping, stay-up-all-night read.”
“Lisbeth Salander [is] one of the most startling, engaging heroines in recent memory . . . Some of the books’ appeal comes from the Swedish setting, but most of it is a result of the author writing from the heart, not from a formula. Larsson clearly loved his brave misfit Lisbeth. And so will you.”
“The Girl Who Played with Fire
confirms the impression left by Dragon Tattoo.
Here is a writer with two skills useful in entertaining readers royally: creating characters who are complex, believable, and appealing even when they act against their own best interest; and parceling out information in a consistently enthralling way.”
“Lisbeth Salander was one of the most original and memorable heroines to surface in a recent thriller: picture Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft endowed with Mr. Spock’s intense braininess and Scarlett O’Hara’s spunky instinct for survival . . . Now Salander is back in an even more central role . . . The reason it works is the same reason that Dragon Tattoo
worked: Salander and Blomkvist transcend their genre and insinuate themselves in the reader’s mind through their oddball individuality, their professional competence and, surprisingly, their emotional vulnerability.”
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A suspenseful, remarkably moving novel . . . This is the best Scandinavian novel to be published in the U.S. since Smilla’s Sense of Snow
. . . Salander is one of those characters who come along only rarely in fiction: a complete original, larger than life yet firmly grounded in realistic detail, utterly independent yet at her core a wounded and frightened child . . . One of the most compelling characters to strut the crime-fiction stage in years.
“This is complex and compelling storytelling at its best, propelled by one of the most fascinating characters in recent crime fiction.”
“Fans of intelligent page-turners will be more than satisfied by Larsson’s second thriller . . . [It has] powerful prose and intriguing lead characters.”
“Fans of postmodern mystery will revel in Larsson’s latest . . . also starring journo extraordinaire Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, the Lara Croft of the land of the midnight sun . . . Lisbeth is really a Baltic MacGyver with a highly developed sense of outrage, a sociopathic bent and brand-new breast implants, to say nothing of a well-stuffed bankbook.”
Reviews from abroad:
“As good as crime writing gets . . . Completely absorbing and engaging on both a narrative and a moral level . . . Lisbeth Salander [is] a remarkable heroine.”
–The Times Literary Supplement
“The huge pleasure of these books is Salander, a fascinating creation with a complete and complex psychology . . . Salander is recognisably a Lara Croft for grown-ups–a female Terminator.”
“Addictive . . . We are in the hands of a master . . . Salander and Blomkvist [are] the finest and strangest partnership in crime fiction since Holmes and Watson . . . Stunningly memorable.”
–Scotland on Sunday
“The Girl Who Played with Fire
is that rare thing–a sequel that is even better than the book that went before . . . A combination of urgent, multilayered thriller, traditional police procedural and articulate examination of the way a supposedly open-minded country like Sweden treats its vulnerable women and children.”
“With the spiky and sassy Salander, Larsson created the most original heroine to emerge in crime fiction for many years . . . She seizes the book by the scruff of its neck and binds the reader in fetters of fascination.”
“This second novel is even more gripping and astonishing than the first. What makes it outstanding is the author’s ability to handle dozens of characters and parallel narratives without losing tension. Larsson was a fantastic storyteller. This novel will leave readers on the edge of their seats.”
–The Sunday Times
“The best thriller I’ve read in ages . . . If you want a book to take on your lifetime trip on the Trans-Siberian railway, The Girl Who Played With Fire
is the one.”
(Ireland)From the Hardcover edition.
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