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 liked book 1, and this book's ending wasn't that great. I felt there could have been 2 more chapters and I would have been a lot happier. Ends did not seem finished.
I hope that it works for me. More much mire time spent up front but when it's put together well , Tbe odds the home will be nicer die white a lung time. Even a chance tonouygriw childrens asthma and have these Judd come zipping on by !
WARNING - this is a story for mature audiences only - and I don't mean just age, I mean one's ability to realistically understand that there is a very dark side of the human soul and separate yourself from the descriptions/events in the story. Larsen captures this darkness vividly, and Salander is a phenomenal executioner of Laresn's ire.
SL's series may be all the rave, and while the "crime/mystery/layers/plotting" is pretty darn good, the explicit details that get you there do get in the way. This novel moves much faster than Dragon Tattoo - that one drove me nuts until I reached the 1/2 way point, and then I furiously re-listened to get all o/t details. I am seriously on the fence about the third novel, though, because as others have commented the material is quite explicit.
I don't agree w/ the common wisdom that this story stands on its own; w/o reading TGWTDT, it would be hard to slug through the abuse/sexual stuff, and you really would not appreciate many of the characters/scenes/events. After having listened to TGWTDT, the story is compelling, and an OUTSTANDING follow up / continuation.
On the bright side, for someone in the USA: I've remarked to several people that listening to the book and the wonderful pronunciations / scene descriptions are like taking a vacation in Sweeden. After watching the first two movies, I can honestly say "That's what I thought XYZ would look like!"
This is the second of The Millennium Trilogy and the weakest book of the three. That's not much of a knock since the three books taken together are more entertaining than just about anything written in a pop thriller vein in several years. Simon Vance's narration is excellent, as it is in the other two volumes. There are some lesbian sex scenes and, as in the first installment, violent sex. If you are sensitive to that sort of thing, then take note. The homoeroticism is not pervasive by any means, but the violent sex and other violence is central to the plot, and does get quite a bit of attention, as it does in the movie versions of the books. This book sets up the finale (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest) beautifully, and that book is worthy of five stars. But you won't enjoy Hornet's Nest nearly as much without hearing this one first, and you certainly will not be bored. All three books are fast-paced and action-packed.
Don't get every ones comments about too much freaky sex? Yes it is part of the story but its not graphic or anything more then the previous story had? Its a good story and left us with a bit of a cliff hanger unlike the last one. If you liked the first one you will like this one.
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!!!!
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