September 26, 2010
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
2009 Random House Audio, Unabridged Edition
18 1/2 hours/ 15 compact discs
Read by Simon Vance
Finished on 9/13/10
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.
But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.
As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself 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.
Wow. For those of you who struggled with the opening chapters of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you can rest assured that the second installment in the late Stieg Larsson's trilogy does not disappoint. I enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I loved The Girl Who Played with Fire. I felt the latter was less confusing and more evenly paced and I was immediately drawn in to the narrative, eager to discover more about Lisbeth Salander and her dark past. What an interesting character, so complex and so seriously flawed that one might think she exhibits sociopathic traits; yet, I found her completely sympathetic and likeable.
And, unlike the first in this series, I had no trouble with the Swedish names and locations thanks to Simon Vance's superb reading. Listening to an audio book is so helpful when it comes to a book set in a foreign country. The repetition of hearing the pronunciation of city names, as well as those of the characters, makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience. (Although I did need to glance at the book as I got toward the end, since a few of the names are very similar and I was having trouble keeping track of who the good guys were.)
And speaking of the ending, the final chapter had me holding my breath with trepidation and as the last words were read, I was stunned by the silence. My first reaction (after getting over the initial shock of the cliff-hanger) was relief in the knowledge that Larsson had written the third book prior to his death. My second thought was to hope that he didn't leave his readers with a similar cliff-hanger at the end of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Final thoughts: The Girl Who Played with Fire is a riveting sequel. I can hardly wait to read the final book in this series.