The girl with the dragon tatto, who played with fire, Lisbeth Salander, is an unlikely and in some ways unlikable heroine. She’s also unforgettable, as are the first two installments of the “millennium trilogy” in which she appears. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Swedish author, Steig Larrson, have redefined the intelligent page-turner/thriller genre, at least for me.
Salander, a diminutive, anti-social, computer hacking wizard, has emerged from an abusive childhood with a rage that keeps her untrusting and elusive. Larsson pairs her with Mikhael Blomkvist, a magazine publisher whose penchant for investigative reporting embroils him in Stockholm’s underbelly and thrusts him to the brink of personal and professional disaster. With nothing in common and linked only by a business arrangement, Salander and Blomkvist find a toxic chemistry and a quirky loyalty that endures through nearly 1,000 pages of racing plot twists. Dark secrets, missing persons, murder, corporate greed, perversion, retaliation and retribution, among other action elements, leave the reader breathless.
Steig Larsson died unexpectedly at fifty shortly after submitting all three manuscripts to his publisher. In an article in the December, 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, “The Author Who Played with Fire,” Christopher Hitchens suggests the possibility of foul play. Larsson was a “crusading journalist” and a known anti-Nazi, and he made some sinister discoveries while researching his trio of books. Even Hitchens concedes there isn’t much overt evidence, but the specter of murder is intriguing and fits somehow with the series’ tone. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest will be released in the US next May. I and many other Larsson fans may not be able to wait. Perhaps we'll pursue the paperback import that appears to be available now!
The Girl Who Played with Fire