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)
I have really liked this series so far, very entertaining and the narrator is good. Highly recommend if you liked the first one.
The first book was good, but this one was even better. I'm looking forward to listening or reading the third in the trilogy.
This book picked up right where the book one left off! It is a little longer due to the incredible detail spent on each of the characters and their history, but you don't want to stop listening! The ending was unbelievable!!!!
Really interesting plot. If you start this, make sure you have the third book ready before you finish. You will want to start it immediately!!!
This book has a great plot. The narrator does a great job changing his voice when changing characters. The story is a little more drawn out than I though it needed to be. I think the author could have skipped a couple of chapters.
This is how I wanted the first of the series to read. It is the first book in a long time that I was not able to put down. I actually stayed after work for 2 hours so I could sit in my office and be alone while reading this. Filled with suspense and action through out. Absolutely great writing!
I enjoyed the entire series so much! I have only one negative comment, and it might just be me, but I had trouble keeping all of the characters straight with so many names ending with "son" and others that sounded so much alike, I got confused as to who was who. Other than that, the book was wonderfully written and the characters really came alive! I wish there were more.
I am a regular listener of Audiobooks. This one specially caught my total attention throughout all three parts. I literally couldn't stop listening at it. I was happy I finished it so I could finally get proper sleep. Now I feel like listening to it again!
I was very entertained by this book. I read them out of order, but it was still awesome! I read "....dragon tatoo" after this one and the two don't conflict the other. You can read one and still be pulled in with another. The narrator was amazing. I had to keep asking myslef if it was narrated by more than one person because he truly bought the characters to life. Good book!
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