Review: ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Friday, August 20, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Millennium publisher Mikael Blomkvist has made his reputation exposing corrupt establishment figures. So when a young journalist approaches him with an investigation into sex trafficking, Blomkvist cannot resist waging war on the powerful figures who control this lucrative industry.  When a young couple are found dead in their Stockholm apartment, it’s a straightforward job for Inspector Bublanski and his team. The killer left the weapon at the scene – and the fingerprints on the gun point to only one direction.  Ex-security analyst Lisbeth Salander is wanted for murder. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behavior makes her an official danger to society – but no-one can find her. The only way Salander can be reached is by computer. But she can break into almost any network she chooses…  (Goodreads Summary)

I think I need to start my review with the disclaimer that, despite what I’m going to say, I did enjoy this book. It was pretty standard thriller fare and I found it an entertaining read for the train journey to and from work. In terms of the story, I thought it was better than ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘ and the translation seemed to have far fewer awkward phrases this time, which made for a much more pleasant read.

Now for the criticism. I thought it was incredibly ironic, given how often praise was given to the skillful editing provided by the characters inside the book, how desperately this book needed a good editor. The plot was really slow to get going and, when at last it did, it was filled with irrelevant details which didn’t add anything significant and so became increasingly irritating as the book progressed. For example, I didn’t care what Lisbeth decided to buy from Ikea and the inventoried list of her purchases (complete with model and number) was just dull. Even if I had cared about her shopping habits, just stating that ‘she bought furniture from Ikea’ would have been sufficient for me to assume that she bought chairs and a table and so on and so forth, without being told this explicitly. The spoon feeding was a bit much. Similarly, there were long passages of dialogue that could also have benefited from being tightened up so that they were sharper and less protracted. Perhaps the reader was supposed to feel as frustrated as the characters did at the inability to get to vital information, but it just left me with large portions of book that my eyes slid over with lack of interest.

That aside, I thought that the whodunnit portions of the book, when I finally reached them, were well thought out and provided the reader with an excellent insight into the character of Lisbeth Salander. In this book she becomes a bit more sympathetic, but still remains mysterious enough to make me look forward to reading book three.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.  Published by Quercus, 2009, pp. 569.  Originally published in Swedish in 2006.

N.B. This is an old review written in 2010 and posted on Goodreads and LibraryThing before I started keeping track of all the books I read here at Old English Rose Reads.  I’ve decided to keep copies here so that this remains a complete record of my reading since I started reviewing books for my own pleasure.

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