Category: FM – Fiction Mystery

The Girl Who Played With Fire

July 16th, 2010 — 2:53am

Buy now on Amazon: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played With FireThis is the second of three mystery novels written by Stieg Larsson who presented them to his publisher  shortly before he died in 2004. It’s success in sales is no doubt at least in part due to the ride on the coattails of the first published novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo although in my opinion it is not as crisp and gripping as the first novel. Since it was originally written in  the author’s native language  many names of characters and places are in Swedish which requires some concentration to keep track and is a distraction. It also seems to be a little more slow moving than the earlier story. The author takes time to describe details of things which ultimately don’t seem to make a difference to the plot or the movement of the story such as the exact layout of a street or a room of a house. However there is also a great deal of page turning suspense.

The story continues where the first novel left off with a main focus on the two main characters Mikael Bloomkvist a journalist and “the girl” Lisapeth Salander. The journalist is involved in a plan to publish an expose, which came his way about a sexual trafficking in young girls, which involved politicians and police among others. There are multiple murders and “ the girl” becomes centrally involved in this situation.. The plot and the developing murder mysteries that develop are quite original and involve Mikael and Lisapeth as well as a new group of police and bad guys. More than a few times the plot is moved along by a coincidence such as one character who happened to be visiting someone  when he heard one side of a phone call which was led to important developments. There was another instance when one character on an unexplained impulse picked up another character’s cell phone that was on the desk when he stepped out of the room and detected a phone call that he had made at a particular time which provided key information. These literary devices would seem to be short cuts that indicate some weaker writing than the first novels. Some of the imagery in the book effectively conjures up some well  known scenes in popular movies of men who are in humanly strong  and one scene where a character arises after almost certain death and burial.

In the end it is Lisapeth Salander who is the main focus of the story. She is a fascinating character who is not quite a lesbian although she comfortably has sex with women, not quite autistic or mentally ill  although she grew up with few friends, rarely cracks a smile and was put away in school for disturbed children as a youngster, not at all solidly built with a very thin child like build although she physically beat up several powerful men. She  is one of the world’s best computer hackers with a photographic memory who will never forget a detail that she reads and will never forget any one who mistreats her or people that she actually cares about.

I look forward to reading about her in the third and final novel. I also will be very interested to see how she is depicted and who will play her  in the series of movies based on these novels which are out now.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

July 9th, 2010 — 2:51am

Buy now on Amazon: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson, the author, died in 2004 shortly after delivering to his publisher the manuscripts for this book (originally in Swedish of course) and two novels he subsequently wrote which I have not yet read. I also have not yet seen the Swedish movie of this story. I also understand there is an English movie soon to be released. The plot is basically a mystery that needs to be solved. One of the main protagonists of the novel is Mikael Bloomkvist, Swedish financial journalist, who as we meet him has just been convicted of libel for trying to expose a wealthy industrialist for his shady corrupt dealings. He thought that he had the evidence to expose him but he couldn’t produce it. His notoriety leads him to the Vanger family and sets him on his quest to solve a mystery, which involves a kidnapping, and much more. As the story develops there are lots of members of this family of whom initially it is a little hard to keep track. Many of the names and places and even small locations are Swedish names, which also threw me for a small loop. However, it really doesn’t distract from the story and Bloomkvist’s curiosity about this mystery. There are surprises with twists and turns, which are expected and appreciated in this genre. It is also interesting to reflect on the sexual mores of the country where the story takes place in that heterosexual casual sex among good friends without a romantic relationship is easily accepted. The story also encounters some perverted crimes that are spelled out in great detail. The author obviously either had a very vivid imagination or sadly enough he could have just taken these descriptions from the periodic reports of such crimes that are reported in the media. By far the most interesting character in the book is the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, who as a youth is shown to have had significant mental problems somewhere between being the product of a deprived childhood with sexual abuse and someone being on the autism spectrum. Now as a young woman she clearly has residual personality issues but is able to use her photographic memory and computer skills to play an important role in the solving of the mystery. She also is presented as an intriguing woman to some of the men in the story as well as to the readers. I understand that both she and the journalist will appear in the subsequent novels.  Larsson who himself was magazine editor with particular politically leanings did seem to have a good feel for the subject of his novel and wrote in an authentic manner. This was a very good read and I look forward to his subsequent books.

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