Stieg Larsson was a crusading Swedish journalist, committed to the fight against political extremism and racism in his home country. In his spare time he completed a trilogy of striking crime novels, which he delivered to his publishers just before his untimely death in 2004. The first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, centred on Mikhail Blomkvist, a crusading journalist with a social conscience; its sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, shifts focus onto the socially awkward computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who becomes entangled in an investigation into sex trafficking, murder, and establishment corruption. This unusual central character is the story's main strength, allowing it to stand apart from the raft of contemporary and classic crime novels which Larsson fondly draws on. An expert hacker and mathematics-obsessive, Salander is a clenched fist of a character; difficult, psychologically traumatised, and capable of extreme violence.
Simon Vance endows her with the accent of an East London street urchin, a fitting voice for this embattled woman. While his narration is crisp, Vance's other characters range from working-class Northern English accents for Blomkvist, assorted police, and journalists, while others are given accents somewhere between Scandinavian and Bela Lugosi. However, as the plot thickens, such incongruities are forgotten, and a compelling social reality is created by Vance's skilled performance, which includes a sensitive rendition of a stroke victim's voice. Vance's cool delivery also suits the reportage feel of much of the writing; characters are introduced through their occupation, address, and educational background, while a mass of tiny observations (such as coffee mugs decorated with the logo of the civil service union) at times convey the tone of a police report. It is a tribute to Vance's delivery that the narrative thrust carries the accumulation of detail effortlessly from one action-packed set-piece to the next.
Larsson's published books have been a European phenomenon, due less, perhaps, to any narrative or thematic innovations as to the author's visceral anger at social injustice and the mistreatment of the vulnerable, particularly women. Violence against women is the work's central motif: the Swedish title of the first book in the series translates as Men Who Hate Women, and Salander is "the woman who hates men who hate women". In fact, there is an element of salacious revenge fantasy to much of her actions as she fights fire with fire; the story treads a fine line between condemning sadism and revelling in sadistic imagery. The real enemy of the tale is institutionalised machismo: policemen are loutish, rape is endemic, and villains enjoy guns, motorbikes, and magazines about motorbikes. Everyone, meanwhile, summers in wood shacks in the Swedish countryside.
While very much part of a larger whole (there are numerous references to events that occurred in the first part of the trilogy), The Girl Who Played with Fire stands alone as a highly enjoyable, if not always smooth - and often disquieting - mixture of classic crime tropes, searing violence, and vivid characterization. Dafydd Phillips
Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.
On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander.
Now, as Blomkvist, alone in his belief in her innocence, plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander 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.
Listen to the rest of The Millennium Trilogy.
©2009 Stieg Larsson; (P)2009 Random House
“Boasts an intricate, puzzle-like story line . . . even as it accelerates toward its startling and violent conclusion.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
“[A] gripping, stay-up-all-night read.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Gripping stuff. . . . A nail-biting tale of murder and cover-ups.” (People)
Could not stop listening, had me at the first 5 minutes. And the narration by Simon Vance was outstanding. I love his voice and how he reads this book to you. I will listen to anything he narrates. He kept it the same throughout this fantastic journey of the trilogy. Wish there could have been more.
Everything, but his voice is fantastic. I loved his narration.
This story is just awesome. Part 2 of a trilogy that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Loved every minute!
There are a lot of parts in the book that made me laugh out loud or say "what the H3!!". Very captivating!
I'm halfway through this book and already realizing that its the best of the series. Vance is perfect in his narration, the characters have not changed even a little from book to book. Highly recommended.
Absolutely! I tried reading the actual book several times but couldn't get into it. Because of the location of the setting, I could never get past the city names or the names of the people. They were just too had to pronounce in my head. This is why the audiobook is great, the narrator reads it for you! Plus the narrator's voice is right on the money, accent and all! (I have played it twice)
Lisbeth!! After book 1, I couldn't imagine how two more books followed it but Lisbeth finds trouble and off you go into another journey.
Accent and correct pronunciation! Absolutely well done!
This is a MUST READ SERIES!! I cannot believe that I put the book down twice and moved on to something else. If you love a good tale and like to see the underdog win (especially when she is a girl) then this is your kind of story!
It is easily ranked in our top 10.
I love how it all comes together and keeps one on the edge of your seat.
The fact that my husband and I can listen at the same time on our travels and discuss things as we go along.
Great sequel. Looking forward to the next.
Yes. This is a great novel. I wish Stieg Larsson had written more than this trilogy.
I like all the underlying messages about abuse towards women...ways that people don't commonly think about.
I almost did. Hard to stop.
I'll listen to it again at some point, and I'll put them into the proper order.
I wish the narration had been done by someone who actually spoke Swedish. Simon Vance's mispronunciations detracted somewhat from my experience. This is not to disparage his skill as a narrator, but more a comment on the choice of narrators for this series.
I can't attest to whether the audio is better than the print, but the audio rocks.
I found the intricate character portraits to be so cunning and detailed that they functioned more as plot than exposition. Good fun to not-quite-get-in-the-heads of the multifaceted characters.
I'm not sure I can identify a particular scene, but tonally I loved the book's head-spinning transitions from procedural information to dramatic - even shocking - scenes without damaging the narrative's cohesiveness.
Disabled Alaskan reader of mostly mysteries historical. Also vampires, werewolves, things that go bump in the night! Some scifi and fantasy!
Steig Larsson is a genius, it's a shame he didn't live long enough to see the success of his books. Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past. This time, Lisbeth must return to the darkness of her own past (more specifically, an event coldly known as "All the Evil") if she is to stay one step ahead--and alive. This series is tremendous, a real edge of the seat thriller.
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