Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire

Posted August 9, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire

on July 28, 2009 and has 503 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Second in the Millenium Trilogy suspense series. It’s actually NOT a sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so much as another adventure with the same main characters.

In 2006, The Girl Who Played with Fire won the Svenska Deckarakademins pris för bästa svenska kriminalroman, and in 2009, it won the Goodreads Choice for Mystery/Thriller. The Girl Who Played with Fire was nominated in 2010 for the Anthony Award for Best Novel and the Dilys Award.

Warning: Try to have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest ready to read as soon as you finish this one!

My Take

Poor guy. Blomkvist has no idea why Lisbeth refuses to have anything to do with him. She simply hasn’t the experience to cope with his style of friendship. Lucky for her, Mik has his own brand of loyalty and a deep need for truth. Interesting revelation when Berger comes clean about her relationship with her husband and Blomkvist. Oh, I love that Palmgren survived and that Lisbeth is re-building her relationship with him! She is so wonderfully intense.

It just blows me away how well Larsson created Lisbeth’s character. A minor bit of tension with the offer made to Erika. I dread when she has to tell Mik as well!

It was fascinating to me how absorbed Lisbeth is with Dimensions in Mathematics. That girl is so incredibly brilliant and then to listen to Teleborian…faugh… I do love Miriam. She’s honest and throws it all back in their faces! All their preconceptions. Lisbeth has her own way of investigating. At least, she only harasses the guilty. Unlike the legal system.

Why does it take soooooo long before anyone talks to Palmgren?

There’s an odd blip in Larsson’s writing style when Lisbeth observes the deal setting up her death. It reads more like a screenplay than a novel.

Sigh…it takes a Swede to know when and how to use the term “whoops”…

Amazing how all those johns who took advantage of teenage girls forced into prostitution and, when they get caught, most of them ask for compassion… How does a mind like this work? One judge said he was doing the whores a favor by screwing them.

The Story

It’s the book proposal from Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson that starts it all up and provides the theme for the magazine’s May issue.

We drop into the middle of Lisbeth’s world tour and slowly ease back into life in Stockholm, providing us with a look inside this girl. Only to have her life fall apart as suspicion falls on Lisbeth. Her only hope is dogged cops and her friends: the one can’t reconcile what he discovers while the others can’t believe such judgments exist!

The Characters

Lisbeth Salander is a brilliant young lady who has been betrayed by the system her entire life so it’s no wonder that she refuses to speak. Camilla is her twin sister. Miriam “Mimmi” Wu is an old girlfriend for whom Lisbeth thinks she is doing a favor. She’s also a lesbian into domination and she don’t take no guff. I like her! Agneta Sofia Sjölander is Lisbeth and Camilla’s mother. She was beaten so often and, finally, so badly that she had to be placed in a nursing home while her daughters were farmed out to foster homes. Paulo Roberto is another friend of Lisbeth’s and a former professional boxer. Plague is a computer hacker friend and they all go to the wall for her.

Mikael “Klasse” Blomkvist is a journalist and partners in Millennium with Erika. Once the lies in Girl with a Dragon Tattoo are resolved, his stock as a journalist is on top again. He’s a playboy uninterested in settling down and always leaves them happy…if they understand the rules of the game. Annika Giannini is Mik’s sister and a lawyer specializing in family law and equal rights. She is also an advocate for abused women. Married to Enrico, they have two children as well as Enrico’s son from an earlier marriage.

The People at Millennium magazine include:
Erika Berger is the editor-in-chief at Millenium magazine. Married to Greger Beckman, an artist who is quite comfortable with her having Blomkvist as a lover. Malin Erikssen is the managing editor. Christer Malin is another partner and the art director. Monika Nilsson is a reporter and Lotta Jarim and Henry Cortez are part-timers. Harriet Vanger is also a partner in Millennium and the granddaughter of the wealthy industrialist from Dragon Tattoo. The woman Mik found as a result of the Vanger project; he’s also having an affair with her.

Dag Svensson is a freelance writer and proposes a book and article deal on sex trafficking to the magazine. His girlfriend, Mia Johansson, is writing her doctoral thesis on it.

Holger Palmgren is a lawyer and Lisbeth’s former Guardian when a debilitating stroke forced the Guardianship Agency to appoint a new Guardian to Lisbeth. Holger is the only official who ever listened to her. Advokat Nils Erik Bjurman is scum with no ethics. He has his own law office and is also the appointed Guardian for at-risk children and adults such as Lisbeth.

Dragan Aramsky is the head of Milton Security and Lisbeth’s old boss. He knows her skills and wants to believe in her, but he’s angry that she simply walked out on him. Johan Fräklund is a former criminal inspector and now the chief of Milton’s operations unit. Sonny Bohman is also a former policeman and Niklas Hedström‘s police career ended before it started. All three men work for Milton Security and are assigned to help the police find Lisbeth, but more to find mitigating circumstances to help her.

The legal side investigating the murders includes:
Criminal Inspector Jan “Bubbles” Bublanski, the police officer in charge. Sonja Modig is methodical, exacting, imaginative, and has the ability to make associations — she also has a sense of humor. Jerker Holmberg is the best crime scene investigator. Curt Andersson has a rep and is mentoring one of them. Hans Faste is egocentric, has a lousy sense of humor, but does have a lot of experience. Hopefully, none of the crimes he’s investigated in the past involved women or anything somewhat hinky. Richard Ekström is the vain and easily led prosecutor against Lisbeth for the murders

Those about to be exposed include:
Per-Åke Sandström is a journalist terrified of Zala and Gunnar Björck is officially an assistant chief of the immigration division of the Security Police, but in reality he works for Säpo.

Carl-Magnus Lundin is the club president of the Savavelsjö Motorcycle Club and a drug distributor. He’ll hire out as an assassin, a kidnapper, whatever you need. Sonny Nieminen is a known killer and a member of the motorcycle club. Ronald Niedermann is huge and feels no pain. He’s also Zala’s son. Tony Scala is a freelance journalist contacted by Hedström which sets the hunt onto Miriam.

Alexander Zalachenko is an Olympic-level asshole. He’s also a Russian defector who beats up women, has his own government-accepted criminal activities, and is Lisbeth’s father.

Säpo is a secret police organization buried deep inside government departments. As can happen, its members have gotten way too big for their britches and have no moral code. Dr. Peter Teleborian is the head physician at St. Stefan’s Psychiatric Clinic who treated Lisbeth in her early teens. He comes across well and has the morals of a rabid snake.

Magnus Borgsjö is the CEO and chairman of the board of Svenska Morgon-Posten with an out-of-this-world offer for Erika.

The Cover and Title

The cover is orange with a nest of blonde hair swirling through the title and the author’s name.

The title is too accurate as Lisbeth Salander’s mere existence stirs embers to flames and she will not give up. Salander is The Girl Who Played with Fire.