If you play with fire, you get burnt but if you mess with Fröken Salander, you are dealing with someone worse than fire.
Stieg Larsson has written ‘The Girl who Played with Fire’ (Swedish title: Flickan som lekte med elden) with an attempt to have it as a stand alone novel so that even readers who haven’t read the first book can enjoy. Well, the readers who have picked this book after having read ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ will have to patiently breeze through the re-establishment of characters they are already acquainted with in the initial pages (personally, it wasn’t a big deal for me to get re-acquainted with the characters once again).
This book starts as a continuity from the events concluded in the first book with Blomkvist now portrayed as a famous ‘celebrity’ publisher of Millennium magazine after having successfully exposed the corrupt practices of Wennerström and Salander as a rich, aah well, super-rich punk-like, lone traveler possessing ready at hand passports of different identities specific for each travel …To add to that there’s also a vivid description of how with her newly-acquired wealth, she buys a grand house, decorates it with Ikea furniture and invests in a super-expensive coffee-maker but lives on Billy Pan Pizzas on days at a stretch (and still manages to look anorexic 🙂 – I wish the author had explained ‘How?’).
Now the plot with ‘potential’ spoilers:
The story initially revolves around the issue of sex trafficking operation in Sweden that Millennium is planning to expose with the help of its newly hired journalist Dag Svensson and his girlfriend Mia Johansson who is writing a thesis on sex trafficking for her doctorate. Parallely, the story describes a lot of events surrounding Lisbeth Salander, her newly acquired lifestyle, her reunion with Miriam Wu, Armansky & her former guardian, Holger Palmgren, and Blomkvist’s desparate attempts to re-connect with Lisbeth.
The plot twists when Dag and Mia are discovered to be murdered in their apartment by Blomkvist one night. The investigation further unfolds into discovering a murdered body of Lisbeth’s guardian, Bjurman, in his apartment by the police. Quite predictably (since a plot would be absent otherwise 🙂), the person that falls under suspicion for having committed all these three murders is Lisbeth Salander – as her finger prints are found on the gun used to kill the couple while the gun apparently belongs to Bjurman.
While the drama for tracking Salander continues by the police, Blomkvist and Armansky set up their own investigation to figure a way out for Salander and prove her innocent. In that quest, Blomkvist works out that a certain ‘Zala’ who is untraceable and most people including the sex trade punters and the exploited prostitutes dread to talk about or squirm at the mention of his name has a key role in the foul play of both sex trafficking in Sweden and all the injustice suffered by Salander. He then sets off to track down ‘Zala’ as he’s somehow sure that Salander’s searching for him too.
Meanwhile, with the turn of multiple events, what the police believe is a simple open-and-shut case with Lisbeth Salander as the suspected murderer becomes more and more complex as the investigation proceeds and the truth of Lisbeth emerges. This book reveals the dark secrets of Lisbeth’s past and explains why she is what she is today.
The book’s climax projects Lisbeth as a Superwoman who manages to attack ‘Zala’ and his tamed gorilla-sized flunky after surviving bullets in her hip, shoulder and head and being buried alive… To top it all she manages to dig herself out of a grave with a cigarette case :D. It was a little too much to take but the character and the story is written so beautifully that you wouldn’t mind believing that too.
I rate the book 4/5 … there are people I know who felt this book couldn’t match up the excitement of the first one but I disagree… this book brings along an equal amount of excitement and curiosity.
And yes, the book also kind of gives you a tutorial on different mathematical equations :D… well, to figure what this means, just read the book.