Just like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson takes a while to whip itself into a frenzy. The first 100 pages or so are used to catch the readers up with Mikael Blomkvist and the always fascinating Lisbeth Salander. After the events of Dragon Tattoo, Blomkvist goes back to his magazine and his new status as a celebrity journalist. Salandar takes her stolen rewards and travels around the world. But almost as soon as she gets back to Sweden, the plot takes off.
Three people are killed in one night in Stockholm, and Salander’s prints are on the murder weapon. Plus, on the victims was Salandar’s bastard of an advokat. Almost immediately, the police latch on to her as a prime suspect. As the incriminating evidence starts to roll in, things start to look more dire for Salander. Blomkvist, Armansky, and the rest of her friends know that she didn’t do it and start their own investigations to find the real killer or killers. Larsson made a genius move her by taking Salander out of the story for this section. You don’t get her side of the story until later and things start to look really dire for a while. And since everyone is heading in a different direction, following up on different leads, you as the reader are not sure what really happened on the night of the murder.
The truth seems to get further away until some key information from Salander’s past comes to light. The mystery turns into a conspiracy that involves the government and the GRU. I’m not going to give anything else away. But I will say that the first 100 pages are a small price to pay for the almost non-stop action of the last 300. The climax of the book is shatteringly exciting and I have to admire Larrson’s guts for what he puts his characters through.
What amazes me still is how much I like Lisbeth. I probably shouldn’t but I do. She’s difficult. She’s untrusting. She has almost no social skills. But I still feel protective of her, just like her allies in the book do. Even as she’s going out to get revenge, you’re rooting for her and hoping like hell she doesn’t get caught. Most of all, I hoped that she wouldn’t got through with it. I’ve only known her for two books, I know that it’s a line she really shouldn’t cross.
And now I have to wait until next year to see what happens next. Argh.