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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
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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
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Cynthia on 05-12-10


Missed work and ignored the phone for two days. Larsson was a consummate story teller. I am totally hooked. Vance brought to life a slew of Interesting and well developed characters that took me from "the girl with the dragon tattoo" immediately into the sequel. Looking forward to the next (and sadly, Last) of the trilogy. I'll probably get fired this month!

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34 of 35 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By David on 03-16-10

irritatingly engrossing

I live in Beijing. I drive or take the subway several times a week and that is when I listen to Audible books. I do not listen to them at home. If I did, I would go through my Audible library much too quickly and my credit card balance would, all too soon, reflect the damage. I am highly disciplined about this. When I get to the door of my apartment, the book clicks off, and podcasts or music must suffice during housework or down time. I know that this is a slippery slope, so I am far too wise to make exceptions.

I listened to the last four or five hours of this book while baking, taking a bath and, finally, lying on my bed, transfixed. Unacceptable!

It breaks my heart that Stieg Larsson is no longer with us. On the other hand, it is going to make it a lot easier for me to return to a regime of no books at home.

Some readers have found the detail in the book overwhelming. For me they were an important part of the texture of the story which moves like real life. When the author puts so much at stake for the characters, the realistic details become loaded--which of them will prove to be crucial, life changing? Which of them are simply part of the unimportant background? If Larsson had not created such engaging and fascinating characters or a situation so charged with danger and dark possibility, they would be tiresome. Instead, I found myself picking my way through them as through a mine field.

In addition, the plot works like a well oiled machine, a very complex machine. In the end you must just give yourself up to it and live it out to the end with Salander, Blomkvist and the fifteen or twenty other memorable characters in the book. Brilliant work!

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126 of 133 people found this review helpful

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