The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson is a sequel to The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. When someone from the book club asked my opinion I described it as a poorly translated, stilted, violent, adventure story with wildly improbably plot turns. But one of the women in my book club loved it. She says that that is just how the Swedish write. So I decided to try the sequel. One of the early scenes describe a shopping trip to Ikea in three page, including the color of each item purchased for outfitting her new apartment. But I stuck with it, and by the time I was a third of the way through I was hooked.
There are two main characters: Lisbeth, a brilliant yet socially inept young woman with a history of abuse. An accomplished computer hacker, she has been hurt so badly by the system that she refuses to cooperate with authorities. She is declared mentally unfit and assigned a guardian. The guardian rapes and abuses her, but Lisbeth gets the better of him and manages to escape and live more or less successfully on her own.
Mikael is an established journalist who befriends Lisbeth when they work together solve a serial murder case and uncover the biggest financial scam in Swedish history. When Lisbeth is accused of three murders at the beginning of the second novel, he works to prove her innocence.
I don’t know why it still surprises me when Jews turn up in unexpected places, like Swedish adventure novels. Some characters in the first novel had a Nazi past but I didn’t expect the detective in charge of the muhttp://www.amotherinisrael.com/wp-admin/post-new.phprder investigation to be a Jew. He wears a yarmulke on “certain high holy days,” orders vegetarian meals in restaurants, and avoids working on the Sabbath. But I’m not sure how his Jewishness developed the plot.
I’ll warn you that the novel contains graphic descriptions of the Swedish underworld. But if you enjoy a fast-paced novel with unusual, well-developed characters, I recommend both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played wtih Fire. Unfortunately, Larsson died shortly after delivering the third manuscript in the series.
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