The Girl Who Played with Fire

8 Jun
    “The Girl Who Played with Fire” is an elegantly crafted thriller, and the second of the Millenium series of novels by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. This book is a natural continuation to the famous “The girl with the dragon tattoo“.  If one does not want to be scratching their head when some reference is made to an older scene not present in the book, then it is taken from the first book. So, it is better to read these books in order.

    After helping Michael Blomkvist in the Wennerström affair, Lisbeth Salander disappears from Sweden with 3 billion Kronor in a bank account which she laundered from the Wennerstrom group. She roams across the high seas, island hopping and lands in Greneda. She befriends, a localite teenager George Bland, whom she tutors in maths. She lives in the room adjacent to a wife-torturing Dr.Forbes. By hacking, Salander learns that Dr.Forbes is trying to pocket $40 million cash by killing his wife. When a hurricane hits Greneda, Salander finds the couple at the beach with Dr.Forbes trying to kill his wife and stikes him violently. He is later found to be dead. She returns to Stockholm buying a new apartment in Mosebacke Torg through Wasp enterprises, a fake company with a disguised bank account and sells her old apartment in Lundagata to Mariam Wu, her lesbian partner.

    Meanwhile parallelly, Mikael Blomkovist and Millennium wants to release a book by young journalist Dag Svensson and run a parallel story in the magazine that will expose the extent of sex trafficking and abuse of underage girls in Sweden, which could implicate several key figures in the government and society. Nils Bjurman, Salander’s legal guardian wants to take revenge on her at all costs and destroy the CD’s which could implicate him; so much so that he foregoes all clients with his focus on one client alone – Lisbeth Salander. A little big of digging on her background reveals about “All the evil” that had happened when she was 11 years old. Salander hacks in Blomkovist’s computer and reads Dag’s work where she hits upon the name “Zala”, is intrigued and decides to pay Dag a visit. Dag and his wife are found murdered later that night with Salander’s finger-prints on the murder weapon. On the same night Bjurman too is murdered and later is found to be by the same weapon. Now the entire focus of the police department shifts to Salander. But she is no where to be found, as she hides in the new apartment and goes out of the home only under a wig and a fake Norwegian passport.
    Blomkovist is one of the few people along with Dragan Armansky of Milton security, who believe that Salander is innocent. Inspector Jan Bublanski along with Sonja Modig begin the investigation of the incident. Salander’s record show her as a psychotic and violent girl who is into prostitution. But Armansky and Blomkovist insist and create a picture of Salander as an intelligent girl with high cognitive skills and morality. But the prosecutor reveals the medical condition to the press and what follows is a steady and ever-increasing discrimination against Salander as a lesbian-Satanist-prostitute-psychotic triple murderer. Blomkovist meets up with Holger Palmgren – Salander’s ex-guardian and learns about her trauma as a child. Blomkovist comes to know that Salander has hacked into his account and that is the only way of contact with her. With her help, he begins a separate investigation into the killings of his colleague Dag while Salander does what she does best – Fight for her survival when the world is against her. The rest of the story is about how the two protagonists combine to solve the crime. And if “All the evil” that occurred in Salander’s past comeback to haunt her again.
    The story starts at a very slow pace but picks up speed in the latter half of the book. One can observe certain patterns emerging from the book. A simple example: we can come to know if a character is good, bad or lies in-between by each of the characters reaction/talk/thinking about Salander’s character. The plot of this book is even better than the first instalment. For the thriller it is, an 8/10 would do well.
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