Book: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Pretty good second mystery novel by Swedish journalist

Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire
MacLehose Press, 2009 (published in the US by Knopf)
ISBN: 978 1 84724 556 4
UKP 16.99
569 pages

Stieg Larsson's first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a not-very-mysterious mystery that's told at a relaxed pace. It is, if not exactly saved, then very much improved by being steeped in Swedish atmosphere. You can practically smell the herring and lingonberries. Mr Larsson's second book (of three, alas, he died at age 50 of a heart attack), The Girl Who Played With Fire, is also a not-very-mysterious mystery that's told at a relaxed pace. Unfortunately, in this book Mr Larsson has dialed back the Swedish atmosphere pretty significantly. We do get a trip to Ikea, but that's not nearly as good as the bacon pancakes and open sandwiches of pickled herring, chives, and egg that we got in the earlier book. They do seem to drink a lot of coffee in Sweden.

The main character is again Mikael Blomkvist and he's still a respectable journalist at the news-magazine Millenium. (As Stieg Larsson was a journalist at the Swedish magazine Expo.) The magazine is due to publish an exposé of the Swedish sex trade which will name many influential customers. That's justified because the customers indirectly support the human trafficking that brings women from Eastern Europe to be unwilling prostitutes in Sweden. Then the freelance authors of the exposé are murdered and the police find evidence that Lisbeth Salander, an ace researcher we also met in the previous book, did it.

Little as Mikael understands Lisbeth, he's sure she didn't do it. And that sets the stage for a pretty interesting novel. The mystery is a little more mysterious than the one in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but, on balance, the book is still not quite as much fun without so much Swedish atmosphere. Still, I'll read the third when it's published in English.

I think that there's a tiny editing error in that there's a "not" missing from "should be on the endangered species list" (p. 179).

Posted: Sat - September 19, 2009 at 08:10 PM   Main   Category: