“The Girl Who Played with Fire” ignites readers’ interest

The second installment in the late Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” picks up a year after the events of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and manages to capture the reader’s attention quickly and more fully than the first novel in the series.

By Cody Naylor

Staff Writer

The second installment in the late Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” picks up a year after the events of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and manages to capture the reader’s attention quickly and more fully than the first novel in the series.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Millenium, the magazine for which he serves as editor and part-owner, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to Blomkvist’s expose on one of Sweden‘s most cut-throat C.E.O.’s, which is detailed in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Lisbeth Salander, the genius tattooed punk outcast who helped Blomkvist research further into Wennerstrom, is living the high life at the beginning of this novel. While she and Blomkvist had been working to nail Wennerstrom, Salander stole billions of dollars from the C.E.O. and is now enjoying a care-free island-hopping lifestyle.

Things take an unfortunate turn when Salander becomes the prime suspect in a triple-homicide. The police have strong circumstantial evidence against her and a nationwide man-hunt for the crazed psychotic killer begins.

The investigation is approached on three different fronts and Larsson does a great job of giving the reader a window into each of the investigations.

The police investigation is comical at times, though the author isn’t really mak­­light of police work, the officers in the novel do the best with what little material they have to go on.

The real revelations are delivered through Salander, who uses her skills as a world-class hacker to gain access to top-secret documents, and Blomkvist, who uses his more conventional resources at Millenium and his determination of Salander’s innocence to unearth even more clues.

All three investigative fronts are augmented by a great cast of supporting characters who are either dead-set against Salander and want nothing more than to see her incarcerated or who are completely in her corner. Such characters include a German hulk of a man who suffers from a genetic defect that keeps him from feeling pain, a Swedish celebrity boxing champion, a group of feminist punk rockers known as Evil Fingers and the Swedish branch of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.

What is most extraordinary about Larsson’s novels is his ability to craft convincing, deep characters. He is not afraid to take the time to develop back stories and feature in-depth conversations with each character he creates which is perhaps why both “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played with Fire” boast over 500 pagesBy the end of the novel, the reader is left with a slight sense of awe. The events depicted in “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” improbable as they seem, are so detailed and intricately woven together that it seems quite plausible that this novel could be based on a true story.

Reading through “The Girl Who Played with Fire” feels like watching a good, thrilling movie; fast and exciting. The novel is full of mystery, top-secret government programs, double-crosses and dangerous characters, but there is nothing artificial about the way the story is presented.

Steig Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, pending the third novel’s release, is thus far one of the best examples of the modern crime novel. Each book is a gem that is treasured by the reader until its completion.

Bottom line: read this book. Read each of the books in the Millenium trilogy. You won’t be able to put them down, which leads me to the one negative aspect of “The Girl Who Played with Fire”: readers must wait until the third and final book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” to be released until the story to reach a worthy conclusion.