Sunday, May 9, 2010
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Recently I read and reviewed the first novel in the Millennium Trilogy, the hugely popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My verdict was mixed; it was solid overall but slow and distracted for long stretches, with a subplot that hindered rather than complement the story.
The sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is a remarkable improvement.
Lisbeth Salander, the titular character of the first book, is a stunningly intelligent but socially inept woman with a history of mental illness. She has severed ties with Mikael Blomkvist, the reporter who served as the protagonist of the first novel, but continues to monitor his life by hacking into his computer. When she discovers he has agreed to publish a book on Sweden's sex trade her complicated and dark past threatens to be exposed. Soon three people are dead, and newspapers across Sweden proclaim Salander the killer. As she goes underground it's up to Blomkvist and other unlikely allies to ferret out the truth before the law catches up to Salander.
Slow? No, not at all. Start to finish it has a tight, well-developed structure that keeps the reader turning pages. There is action - actual action, not the Miss Marple heroics of the first book - and a fight worthy of a Robert B. Parker novel. I wouldn't label the mystery itself as first rate (in that regard, Tattoo is superior) but it's certainly enough to keep you interested. And no, you don't need to read the books in order; they stand alone.
Well done. B+