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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

The electrifying follow-up to the phenomenal best seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ("An intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller" The Washington Post), and this time it is Lisbeth Salander, the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker, who is the focus and fierce heart of the story.

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    18,143
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  • 3 Stars
    1,182
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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    11,743
  • 4 Stars
    2,505
  • 3 Stars
    459
  • 2 Stars
    50
  • 1 Stars
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Story

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
    115
  • 1 Stars
    81
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  • Overall

Sublime Foreign Suspense

This book is probably the most enjoyable suspense thriller I have read this year. I liked the characterizations, the action, the plot details, and the pace of the book. Probablly the most enjoyable was the language of the book. Being a foreign author, the word selection of the translation was very well done - it has a tone and content that is easily understood, the vocabulary used enhances the mood, uses unusual words that are at once uncommon and precisely right.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dean
  • Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • 08-21-09

Great follow up effort

This was a real metaphorical page turner. A solid follow up to the dragon tattoo. Same reader, who has good, distinctive voices.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Jean

Great book. I did not want it to end.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Didn't Want it to End

I can't imagine a better novel. I suspect I'll compare everything else to Larsson, and everything else will fall short. I'll listen to this more than once (I've already listened to his previous novel twice). This one is equal to, if not better than, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And that's saying a great deal. The characters are exceptionally well drawn, the plot tight, and the narrator--well, I could listen to him all day. In fact, I did. I'm in mourning that there will only be one more book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jonathan
  • Williamston, SC, United States
  • 08-14-09

JWClemson

Wow!!! Great follow up to the first novel. Can't wait until the final book. I wonder if they'll find anyone to finsih out the fourth novel...one can only hope.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Really great read

I enjoyed this book alot. I did get confused and went back and relistened to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It was fun to listen again and then the characters were fresh in my mind. Pay close attention to names as they are Swedish and you need to remember all the characters as the book progresses. Credit Worthy. A lot of fun

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

a must read!

I liked the book and the character Lizbeth Sallander. I enjoyed the careful and clever ways she protected herself. I recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Larsson be read first before this book for it will make this book more enjoyable. Both books are dark, violent and many times very disturbing, but had to be to make this novel so captivating. I couldn't stop listening I was so intrigued! The reader Simon Vance does an extraordinary job! Two thumbs up! I can't wait for the 3rd book.!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Lisbeth Salander is . . .

. . . my new favorite literary heroine. Love this girl -- she is nobody's victim. Can't wait till the third book . . .

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

a tank of gas

listeners who have listened to this book will understand my title.. but I drove around town and almost a tank of gas waiting for the end of this book. NO ONE could distract me.Simon Vance may overplay it for some but I loved it..you can almost feel his shift from character to character in each sentence... I am SO sorry we have lost Steig Larsson. he will be missed.. both in our hearts and in our ears. Make sure to alert me me when the third of the trilogy is released. Who knew Sweden could be so interesting! Listen UP.. you will LOVE IT..you will feel the cold of the Swedish winter.. and some of the characters.. and the warmth of the Swedish summer.. and some of the characters. Download the first book The Girl With The Red Dragon Tattoo first.. you won't regret it..

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • erin
  • Gt Barrington, MA, United States
  • 08-11-09

Loved this book.

Loved this book. This review is for those of you that may be looking to read this without reading the first book The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo before reading this one. There is character development in the first book that is important and will make this book double in enjoyment. I thought the first book was great, this book is even better. Cant wait for the third!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful