Monday, August 2, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This is the second in the Millenium Series (the first being The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which I read in the winter. My brief review is in the four months of catchup post). It picks up with Lisbeth Salander (the girl) in the Carribbean taking it easy thanks to her recent activities. Mikael Blomkvist meanwhile is back at Millenium working on a magazine issue and a book relating to human trafficking and the sex slave business in Sweden. When the book’s author, his wife (who was doing a dissertation on the sex trade), and Lisbeth’s guardian all turn up dead in a single night all signs point to her as the killer. Mikael however doesn’t believe her to be guilty and investigates who else could have killed them and would want to frame Lisbeth. The book delves much deeper into Lisbeth’s history and we learn a lot about how she got to be the way she is. We learn how she got the nickname Wasp, why she was declared incompetent, and much more.

The book took me awhile to get into. The whole first third is about Lisbeth on vacation and buying new stuff to start over and Mikael editing this book and wondering what happened to her. I really could have done without a lot of this. It seemed unimportant (who knows it may come into play later) and at the end I was remembering the beginning and how it had nothing to do with the main storyline. The real meaty part of it, when we get into the mystery, doesn’t start until around page 215. But when it did finally pickup it was non-stop excitement. There were so many twists and turns that I spent a lot of it rereading passages just to figure out what had happened. It was also much more suspenseful than the first book. It was a real page-turner, which is such a cliché statement but absolutely true. I did not want to put it down. It took me six weeks to read the first 200 pages and a week to read the rest of it (its 725 pages).

I also have to say that it leads to some times of confusion but one of the things I really like about these books is that it is told from many different perspectives. We don’t just hear about what is happening from Lisbeth or Mikael, but a combination of the two and a myriad of other characters. I think that is really refreshing when it comes to mystery novels. It’s not just told from one character’s perspective with whom we have to follow along with as they try to put clues together. We get a whole bunch of different pieces and perspectives. I think it helps you come up with more substantial possibilities. In the first book I figured out a key part of the mystery and the same was the case in this one. I actually figured out a lot of this one but there were still surprises. I’m pretty sure the last twenty pages I had mouth hanging open and I definitely cannot wait to read the third one (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).

On the whole it was very good. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like mysteries. Maybe it was because one of the perspectives it was told from was the police or just that it is more sensational but this one seemed very much to me like an episode of Law and Order. I can really see it making a good movie. On that note… they are making these books into movies staring Daniel Craig as Mikael. Which honestly I think is brilliant casting. I think he has the right amount of smarts and brooding to pull it off. I’m waiting to hear who they get to play Lisbeth. I’m not all that impressed with the rumored options (Carey Mulligan, Ellen Page, Kiera Knightley, seriously?) and they better not screw this up. Also I am a little confused because there are Swedish version already. I've seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it’s pretty good. It’s on Netflix instant. They did change a few things around (like making two characters one) but in general they stuck to the main storyline. They did also add a small part in that gave a major thing about the second book away. Maybe that is why I figured a lot out?

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