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)
The books is intriguing and kept my interest, and I love Simon Vance as narrator. It's a very easy listen and has made my daily commute bearable.
I find the Millennium series entertaining and enjoy that fact that I cannot always predict the next plot twist. The writing is not the best and I would never rave about it as a literary work of art, but the story is fresh and the characters interesting enough. The simplistic text is great for listening in my car or anytime I need something to do.
Simon Vance is amazing, and I enjoy listening to his voice. He is easy to understand, and adds depth and character to the text. I love that I can even distinguish which character is speaking based on his voice.
At times, I find this series frustrating both because of the implausibility of a given situation or character at times and the very overt feminist overtones throughout the book. I am all for feminism and the like, but sometimes it's so preachy and without nuance. It is a bit aggravating that all women seem to be victims or without moral wrongdoing (and anyone who disagrees is obviously a bigot). As a woman, I would have loved to see more dimensional female characters with more moral complexity... but oh well.
I found this book to be the best in the trilogy. This was Lisbeth Salander's tale. Don't get me wrong, I was a big fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; however I found that while the mystery story line in the first book was interesting, it didn't hold a candle to the Salander-focused scenes in the book. Bottom line if you want more Salander you'll find it in spades in The Girl who Played with Fire.
This book was very cinematic in the telling and because of that I was pulled completely into the story, even more so than the first novel which also did a great job of showing instead of telling.
Sadly, I have to say the third and final book in this series was a major disappointment. The first two thirds of the novel was mostly narrative description of Swedish governmental workings and was Blomquist centric to say the least. Yawn. Most of Salander's action is stymied by the fact that she is literally incapacitated for the majority of the novel. I must say the overall series was good enough that I would have been compelled to read The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest even if I had a crystal ball to tell me how disappointed and, for most of the book, bored I would be.
But I digress..if you want a pull you in, keep you up late reading, nerd out and immediately have to rent the movie type experience, read The Girl who Played with Fire--it really stands on its own.
Was an avid reader as a child, young adult. Now able to recapture that same thrill and love of stories by listening to books during the day.
Mr. Vance's voices add great character to the story.
Lisbeth Salander starts off right where The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo left off.
The incredible ending! What a story. Bravo!
When lisbeth left her home.
A great read. Can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy.
I loved the audio version, because I could easily distinguish between characters and changes in scenes. Also, with all the Swedish pronunciations, I could sit back, relax, and have the story talk to me.
I couldn't stop listening, and at times would find a reason to take a drive, just to keep going. With Lisbeth, you never knew what was going to happen next. As the plot unraveled, there were more and more surprises. Incredible story.
I loved it from beginning to end. Every scene led to the next, and the entire book led to the next book.
I'm sad that there is only one more book in the series. These are incredible characters in an incredible set of circumstances. Just an awesome story.
Simon Vance is an exceptional narrator but I struggled in parts of the first book with dialogue, day-to day detail and prolonged anticipation of what would happen next.
Not this book. It never lets up and is at the heart of the entire Salander saga. Rivaling Red Dragon and other Thomas Harris classics, this is one of the best thrillers I have ever read or listened.
The smaller characters made this book-- Arnosky, Zala, Burger, and others that made ever subplot as intense as the other.
was impressed look forward to the last one and where will lizabeth go from here
book one in the series was great too Girl with the dragon tatoo WOW great reads
great fantasic listens made walking on my treadmill much more enjoyable
bizarre, lame accents
no, but got through it pretty fast, considering
Better title, same great characters
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, this audiobook is an 8. I've listen to this book twice.
No, this is the first time I've listened to Simon Vance.
Audio books and books are always better than a film of the same.
Just as compelling as the first novel. It was hard to get out of the car and go to work. Stieg Larsson could sure write a good mystery, and Simon Vance is an incredible actor.
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