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The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Stieg Larsson / Edition: Reprint / Paperback / 608 Pages / Book is published 2009-07-09 by Quercus Publishing Plc

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      02.09.2013 22:59
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      A totally gripping read.

      The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second novel in a series of books sometimes referred to as the Millenium trilogy. Written by Stieg Larsson, the novels are set in his native Sweden. The novels have been pretty successful since their posthumous publication. This was released in Swedish in 2006, and was translated into English from 2009.

      While I read and enjoyed the first novel in the trilogy a couple of years ago, and I had also watched the film of this novel, I had never actually managed to make time to start reading it. At 570 pages, featuring swedish named characters and a detailed and involving plot, it is never going to be good to start reading this without having proper time and attention to follow the action. It is only recently I achieved this.

      The book is the second in the trilogy, so in my opinion it is best if you have read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo first. Although the author gives a reminder of the plot from this novel, to fully understand the motivation of the main characters at least, then you need to know what links them together from the events in book one. It would be harder to appreciate this story without this knowledge of them.

      We join the characters a few months after the events of book one. Mikael Blomkvist is back in Stockholm working for his magazine Millenium. His reputation is now restored after he was proved innocent of libel, and he is somewhat a celebrity due to his actions in exposing corruption.

      Lisbeth Salander helped Mikael to uncover evidence in this case using her unusual skills as a computer hacker. The two grew pretty close while they were together, but Lisbeth feels a bit of a fool for falling in love with Mikael, and we start this novel with her travelling around the Carribean getting her thoughts back together.

      Salander is a very unusual character with a lot of history. Some event in her past which is unknown to us led to her being held in a psychiatric unit as a child, then held under guardianship as an adult. We had seen her have a run in with her Guardian in 'Dragon Tattoo', and this comes back to bite her on the bum big time in this novel.

      Somehow, a journalist working on an exposé for Millenium magazine comes onto Salander's radar. A name he is researching is somehow linked to her, only the journalist and his girlfriend are killed and Salander is put firmly in the frame.

      What follows is a tense time for Salander as she tries to evade the police and find out who has set her up. Her old friend Mikael is wanting to help her, but can Salander bring herself to trust him again? And how does all the crazy events happening now link to Salander and her past?

      This is a story I thoroughly enjoyed. I do find that Larsson has created a scenario which is very believable, and it is exquisitly plotted, but I also find that he is one of these authors who feels the need to document everything in detail. The story is padded in my opinion in certain places such as describing so much of the story of Salander's travels when it could be more focussed on the action in Stockholm.

      I found it fascinating filling in the history of the character Salander, and it gave me a much better idea of what motivates her to act the way that she does in her adult life. I found the build up of her personality to show how perhaps she has Aspergers syndrome to be very fitting to her character.

      Mikael's character was less interesting to me in this book. I found myself wanting to know what Salander was doing rather than see Mikael obsessing about things. I did enjoy however, seeing her former guardian Palermo regaining some health and joining in with trying to find Salander before the police did.

      There are plenty of new characters in this book, and I thought the villains particulary chilling. Niedermann is a machine - he seems indestructable, and every time he appeared in the story, I was waiting to see what harm would happen to someone next. Zalencho is also a total psychopath. I really could not predict whether Salander would come out of this whole scenario unscathed or not.

      The police investigation is something that is covered a bit too closely as well for my liking. I found sometimes this dragged on, especially when they seemed to be making things up about Salander to frame her for murder. It made me quite angry at how some of the police were not doing their job properly and blaming the first person they suspect, and the few police officers on her side were not allowed to follow any other leads.

      This novel to me was faster paced than Dragon Tattoo, and had more drama throughout the novel. It didn't take quite so long to get going with the plot as the first book did, and I was already familiar with many characters so I could leap straight into the story. I found myself reading for quite long periods at a time to get to a point I was willing to take a break. The focus on Salander was very appealing to me, though I did find how she had been treated quite horrifying. It did make me admire her even more for making a life of sorts for herself.

      Even though I think this would benefit from a slight prune to the story, I heartily recommend this for people who enjoy dramatic stories with plenty of violence and corruption. I can't think of any other modern series quite like it.

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        03.02.2013 16:26
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        A superb thriller and worthy sequel to Dragon Tattoo

        The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second in the so-called Millennium trilogy and sequel to the hugely successful Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It once again follows crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist and the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander as they unravel a dark conspiracy that has lain hidden for years.

        Mikael Blomqvist and his Millennium magazine colleagues are getting ready to publish an expose of the sex-trafficking industry, naming people in positions of authority. When the authors of the article are found murdered, Blomqvist starts to dig deeper and must question where his loyalties lie when the prime suspect is named by police as Lisbeth Salander.

        Like its predecessor, The Girl Who Played with Fire can be a little daunting at times. For a start, it looks like a brick, with over 600 pages to read. Indeed, despite the fact I hugely enjoyed the first book in the series, I did put off reading the sequel for a while, as I wasn't yet ready to tackle another book of this magnitude and needed a break reading something a little lighter.

        It's also a little off-putting due to its complex, labyrinthine plotting and multitude of characters, so numerous that it can sometimes be slightly tricky to keep them all straight in your mind. Indeed, there were a few occasions where I did have to stop for a few seconds to recall where I had last encountered certain characters or what I already knew about them.

        Give it a chance, though, and The Girl Who Played With Fire will convince you that these really are not issues. Yes, the plotting is quite complex, but it is also very well written so that you rarely lose track of what is going on. Events occur in a logical sequence and there are no sudden, annoying leaps of logic in the plot. Everything is carefully explained by Larsson and he makes sure he carries his readers with him and doesn't leave them behind.

        The length of the book similarly proves to be a red herring. One of the great strengths of the first book was its incredible readability, and the sequel is no different. Larsson has a deceptive style that just drags you in. If you tried to explain it to anyone, you would have to say that Larsson has a very languid style, that his book contains an awful lot of description and background information and takes a very long time to get to the meat of the plot. This is used as an advantage, however, because Larsson uses these extra pages to build up an incredibly realistic sense of characters, settings and plot. Rather than becoming a barrier to readability, the level of detail actually enhances it.

        It's probably fair to say that The Girl Who Played With Fire is not quite as good as the first book and, indeed, is the weakest of the trilogy (in a relative sense). This is mostly because the plotting is slightly more conventional. The original was a variant on the classic "locked room" murder-mystery with a stunning twist. By contrast, this second effort has a more straightforward "falsely accused of murder" plotline.

        The narrative is kept feeling fresh by reporting events from a number of different perspectives. Dragon Tattoo was seen mostly from the viewpoint of Blomqvist, who could be slightly smug and idealistic. The second book also features Blomqvist, but also gives greater insight into Lisbeth Salander and others. This adds a little bit of variety that was missing from the previous book and further enhances its readability.

        Larsson is also highly skilful at taking these multiple characters and plot strands and interweaving them effortlessly. It always feels like there is a logical, coherent narrative flow and revelations about Salander's past appear perfectly normal within the context of the book, not cheap "plot twists" designed to throw the reader off balance. Larsson is also excellent at building tension, bringing events to a head at just the right time to prevent the reader from becoming bored, but not over-doing this. There are an awful lot of thriller writers out there who could learn a thing or two from Larsson's style!

        Of course, you do need to have read the first book to make full sense of this one. Whilst it is just about possible to read as a stand-alone volume, there are plenty of references back to the first instalment that will baffle you if you try and read them out of sequence. The books were planned and written as a trilogy, so they do build on each other and it definitely makes sense to read them in the right order.

        It's nice for once to see an author who assumes that his readership is intelligent. As well as writing a cracking, complex story, Larsson also raises a number of serious social issues, particularly surrounding the way society allows women to be treated or the abuse of power. This is not done in a tub-thumping way, but in a serious, considered fashion that raises the issues, but doesn't provide any simple solutions.

        I had my doubts as to whether this sequel could possibly be as interesting, entertaining and readable as the first book. Whilst it might not feel quite as fresh, it is still immensely readable and hugely enjoyable. If you're one of the few people who have still not read the Millennium Trilogy, then I can highly recommend it.

        Basic Information
        ------------------------
        The Girl Who Played With Fire
        Stieg Larsson
        Quercus, Reprint edition, 2009
        ISBN: 978-1906694180

        (c) Copyright SWSt 2013

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          07.07.2011 13:20
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          Great continuation of the millenium trilogy!

          'The Girl Who Played With Fire' is the second part of the award winning trilogy of books by Swedish author Stieg Larrson entitled 'Millenium'.

          After reading the first book i did not read this for a few months afterwards but getting back into Larrson's style of writing was easy. The first few chapters of the book focus on Lisbeth the young punk renegade, she has certainly changed from the first book and we learn more about her ways of scamming the system and her skills as a computer hacker taking advantage of loop holes at every chance.

          Michael Blomkvist returns again after his spell in prison and is now somewhat of a celebrity and well known in his native Stockholm, we find out a lot more about him and he comes across as a bit of a womaniser. Without spoiling the plot of the first book some of the charactors return 2 major ones. One of whom plays a fairly central role in the second book.

          Compared to the first book i found the first half of this one to be of slow pace at first, it is only half way through where a major plot line happens and once again the book turns into a frantic page turner that keeps you hooked. I found the content of the book a lot 'darker' than that of the first with its heavy influences on sex trafficking and violent murders.

          One thing i did not realise until reading this book was that Stieg Larrson the author died before the millenium trilogy was released, this is great shame as he is certainly one of my favourate authors.

          To conclude the Girls Who Played with Fire is an excellent sequal to the first book and well worth a read.

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          21.04.2011 16:37
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          Even better than 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'!

          ---Background---

          This is the second book in the notorious Millennium trilogy, written by Steig Larsson. The book was originally written in Swedish and was published in 2006 - it was translated into English and published in 2009. This sequel was also adapted into a film in 2010, which took just less than half a million pounds in its opening weekend in the UK alone. According to 'The Bookseller' magazine, 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' is apparently the first and only book which has been translated into English to reach number 1 in the UK hardback charts. It's easy to see why this book is so popular...

          Larsson had just delivered his manuscripts for his three books to the publishers in 2004, when he tragically and suddenly died aged just 50. He never saw his books published, and never knew of their worldwide popularity. However, we do know from his life-long partner Eva Gabrielsson that Larsson regarded writing as a relaxation method, through which he could follow up mysteries and conspiracies without putting himself or Eva in danger...fans of his can take solace in the fact that he died after completing something he loved doing!

          Interestingly, the original Swedish title of this book translates as the same as the English title - 'The Girl Who Played With Fire', whereas for the first book the Swedish and English titles are completely different (see my review on the first book, dated 11/04/2011). Perhaps it was this book, which is widely seen as being more successful than the first, which gave the publishers the inspiration to create the brand that is the Millennium Trilogy.

          ---The Plot---

          Mikael Blomkvist has returned to Millennium magazine, and is working with journalist Dag Svensson and his partner, PhD student Mia Johansson on a massive project to expose some big names in the world of sex trafficking. But when Svensson and Johansson are found shot in their apartment, a murder hunt gets underway.

          At the same time, the social outcast that is Lisbeth Salander has been trying to create some stability in her life, after a year of travelling, and several years prior to that of rather dodgy enterprises. But when it's her fingerprints on the gun that killed Svensson and Johansson, she shoots straight to the top of the suspects list (excuse the pun). The problem is that she can't be found or contacted for love nor money.

          Blomkvist has worked with Salander before, and is convinced that she's innocent, so sets out to help Salander clear her name. But with Salander hiding from the police, and all the evidence stacked against her, is she really innocent?

          ---The Verdict: To Read Or Not To Read?---

          When I read this book, throughout most of it I found myself comparing it to its predecessor. As a result, I made two clear comparisons between the two, simply comparing the first hundred pages or so, like for like. Firstly, I found that the first book was a lot slower in getting started, whilst 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' threw you straight into the thick of things, with lots of excitement and intrigue straight from the off. On the other hand, my second observation was that the actual mystery - the content of the story, so to speak - was quite slow to get off the ground in this book, although it started much earlier in the first book. So, in a nutshell: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' offers a slower build-up of excitement although a quicker start to the story; 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' sees the actual story start more gently, but he excitement's there straight away.

          So, carrying along with the idea of the thrill of the ride, 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' has it in bucket loads. The writing is pacy - much more so than in the first book of the trilogy, and found that it really is a page-turner. Perhaps I should have thought a bit further ahead and titled this review 'The Book That I Couldn't Put Down'...

          However, despite all my comparisons, this could be a stand-alone book in its own right. During the first chapter or two, Larsson outlines the plot and the key character attributes from the first book - having already read it, I immediately understood what he meant and it acted as a good reminder for me, but if this had been my first venture into the Millennium books I would have been provided with enough information to understand the basics of the characters and their pasts.

          Nevertheless, there were other things mentioned in 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' which referred back to the plot of the first book. For example, the Wennerström affair was briefly touched upon: it plays a big part in the first book, and if I hadn't known that, the reference would have gone straight over my head. It seems to me that you don't need to have read the first book first, but it might help from time to time!

          On to the characters...

          Mikael Blomkvist is as hard-working, focused and loyal as ever, and Salander is her usual 'under-the-radar' self. In fact, for the majority of the book Salander isn't involved, which is surprising considering the whole book focuses around her. It is a clever technique on Larsson's part to do this, though, as in a way it gives a sense of what it must have been like for Blomkvist and the police. I often found myself thinking: 'Come on Lisbeth, give us your side of the story, I want to know what you're getting up to!', probably in a similar way to many of the characters. For a lot of the time she's a very distant character in this book, but when she comes out of the woodwork she does it in style. Action scenes abound, as Salander brings this book to life.

          I won't comment on Blomkvist or any of the other characters which appeared in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', as they're much the same in both books. Wouldn't want to repeat myself, and all that...

          I mentioned in my review of the first book that I was worried about getting confused from the Swedish names, but it didn't really end up being a problem. In this book, however, it was a bit more confusing as a lot of the names were quite similar to each other. Svensson, Johansson, and Eriksson, not to mention Blomkvist, Berger, Bjurman and Bjork, were all names which had me carefully think and sort out who was who. With a bit of thought it's possible to remind yourself which name corresponds with which character as within their own contexts you can figure it out - it's just that I don't always want to be getting confused over the characters in a book, as it's always better to read it smoothly and easily with no confusion at all. This was the one factor which I felt really let the book down, and I was considering knocking off a star for it...but when the book as a whole is better than the first book, I couldn't really do that now could I?!

          Finally, the ending to the book is quite something in itself. Don't worry, I'm not about to give anything away! All I'll say is that it ended in some ways a bit abruptly, and wasn't rounded off as completely as it could have been. Although I would see this as a disadvantage under normal circumstances, I don't in this case as from what I understand, the third and final book in the series carries on from where this one left off. 'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest' not only rounds off the trilogy, but it seems to round off the story of 'The Girl Who Played With Fire', too!

          As I say, this book is, in my opinion, better than 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'. The plot and storyline are exciting, thrilling and intriguing, and had me guessing right until the very end. I found it nail-biting reading and finished the book in a matter of days. Once again, it's the characters that really make this story as they're so credible and easy to understand that they're a joy to follow. I await the start of 'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest' with unabated anticipation!

          ---Last Thoughts---

          If you're still not sure, please don't just take my word for it. During my research for the 'Background' section of this review I found that many critics also expressed their opinions that the second book in the Millennium series was better and more enjoyable than the first. We can't all be wrong...!

          Once again, if you're given the choice between the book and the film I'd recommend reading the book. I haven't seen the film, but at any rate if you read the book first, you can see how you enjoy it and make your own mind up about whether or not the film would ruin the magic of the book, as I fear it would.

          A paperback copy of 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' is currently available to buy for £4.49 from Amazon, or a Kindle copy can be bought for the slightly lower price of £4.27. To me, this seems well worth it and I'd thoroughly recommend buying it, especially for such a good price!

          I used the following websites for reference, and to gather some information included in the 'Background' section:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_Who_Played_with_Fire
          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1216487/
          http://www.stieglarsson.com/

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            10.04.2011 20:37
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            A fantastic second story in the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson

            After finishing 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', I quickly went on to this instalment of the Millennium Trilogy. There's no denying Steig Larsson is a talented writer and this book I found to be more gripping than the first, though perhaps that is because I felt more familiar with the characters.
            I won't say much about the story line as not to ruin it for those who are yet to read it. It follows nicely on from the first and gives you more of an insight into Lisabeths' life which keeps you coming back for more.
            Larsson develops the characters relationship between each other as the book progresses, however things never go how you expect them to.

            It is a very cleverly written book and I found it very difficult to put it down, a good mix of adventure and relationships makes it a brilliant read. A real shame Larsson is no longer with us.

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              24.02.2011 23:55
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              Amazing!!!!

              After reading 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' I just couldn't resist buying the second and third installments of the Millennium Trilogy straight away! As many others have probably already stated, I could not put it down and managed to read all three books in a matter of weeks (where it would usually take months!)

              ** The Girl Who Played With Fire **

              I have tried to bring the description of the story right down as it is easy to get carried away and spoil the story for the reader. Pretty much everything in the following description is on the back of the book so don't worry about coming across spoilers!

              When Michael Blomkvist is approached by young journalist, Dag Svensson, he snatches up his extensive research on sex trafficking and agrees to publish a special issue of Millennuim. However, shortly before the issue is due for release, Svensson and his girlfriend are found shot dead in their apartment. And the evidence all points to one suspect, Lisbeth Salander.

              As the authorities ask for the public's assistance in finding Lisbeth, it soon turns into a nationwide manhunt. But a handful of people do not believe that Lisbeth is a killer and vow to prove her innocence. The ringleader of the group? Michael Blomkvist!

              But as he investigates further it soon becomes clear that this story is more complicated as it may have seemed at first.

              ** Thoughts? **

              Firstly, I would like to apologise for the brief description of the plot but, as stated above, I do not want to spoil any of the story!

              As with the first installment of the series, I did find this book a little difficult to get into at first. Luckily, I had the success of the first story in the back of my mind willing me to continue and get into it. I did feel like I had to read around 1/3 of the book before anything overly interesting happened, and the first 1/3 seemed to be filling in gaps between the first two novels.

              However, once I was into it and had gotten past the introductions and filling in of gaps, the book became impossible to put down and I found myself finding time that I didn't have just to read one more chapter here and there! There were so many twists and turns that it was difficult to work out where the story was going and I only found one part of the whole novel predicatable!

              As with the first book, I began to feel like I was a part of the investigation being carried out throughout the story and I just wanted answers! I probably felt more frustrated then the characters in the book and this made the book absolutely impossible to put down or to give up on. I love this about all three of the Millennium novels and it seems that Larsson knew exactly what to do to grip his readers.

              As you get deeper into the story, you begin to draw up your own conclusions to the story and then find yourself questioning your conclusions. As I was reading it, I drew up my own conclusions then decided it couldn't possibly be what I was thinking. When it got to it, I was right, which disappointed me slightly as it made me feel as though this part was predictable (or I could just be that clever!).

              Overall, I found The Girls Who Played With Fire truly gripping. It is definatelty one of the best, most interesting books that I have ever read!

              However, I did become a little too gripped and seemed to forget about reality!!

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                29.09.2010 19:08
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                Highly recommended

                I bought this book as soon as I had finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as I had enjoyed it so much.

                This second installment follows Lisbeth Salander, and Mikael Blomkvist from the first book, this time delving further into the mysterious Salander's past, and following Millennium's insight into a seedy underworld of sex trafficking in Sweden.

                The book begins quite slowly and we see what has happened to Salander after the fall out from the first. There is a fair amount of detail regarding Mathematics which can make the text somewhat challenging to follow in the way in which you would expect from a novel.

                Things start to pick up fairly quickly however, when the murder of a couple takes place, and Salander is framed for the crime.

                Larsson manages to develop this storyline into a number of fascinating threads, keeping a consistently high pace throughout most of the book. He occasionally brings the flow back to a slow plod at times, but always in the interests of exploring the characters further, or to enhance the detail of the story.

                The end of the book is perhaps somewhat anticlimactic - however the third book follows on directly from this story; Larsson somehow manages to bring the book to a fairly satisfactory conclusion whilst still keeping several threads of the story alive and ready to unfold in the final book.

                I would highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates excellent writing and some fast paced action.

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                17.08.2010 16:55
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                The second book of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy

                As with the first book of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, I am once more experiencing mixed feelings of appreciation for such excellent writing, and relief at having managed to wade through a lot of padded waffle and deep explanation. When people ask me how I'm finding the books, my answer is twofold: there is no denying how good a writer he was, but you can tell his career was in journalism and research, as no stone is left unturned, every minute detail included in the narrative.

                Expectations

                The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second of the trilogy, and is best read after the first, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The first book takes an absolute age to get going, and it's really around 150 pages before things start heating up - there is a lot of background detail and plot and character development. As a result, I expected this second book to get going a bit quicker, as the main characters certainly had their element of development made solid in the first.

                What I actually got

                I couldn't have been more wrong. Whereas the first book takes a long time to develop its own plot and characters, we see here an altogether new plot and thus characters as well. It's as if Larsson has written a list of characters and decided to develop some of them in the first book and then focus on others in the second. By the start of this book, we are now familiar with the back histories of the trilogy's two main protagonists, eclectic computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and (in)famous journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Larsson now chooses to develop some characters who work with Blomkvist, as well as bring in a whole bunch of new people once the main body of the plot comes into effect, with various members of the police getting involved, as well as a new set of villains.

                However, this is not before a most confusing introduction. I can understand the need to at least make a balance between the levels of deep character depth of those from the first book and those featuring heavily in the second, but this one starts off with lengthy descriptions of what Lisbeth has been doing since the events of the first took place. You get a blow by blow account, and I was getting seriously annoyed by around page 50, where I quite happily put the book down and stormed into the kitchen, demanding to know if I was likely to repeat the event of wasting the first 150 pages of my time. My wife smiled and told me it'd be worth it. I believed her.

                Things pick up..............

                Once things do get going (and yes, this was around the 150 page mark or so), it kind of hits you like a train. The blurb doesn't really reveal many details, just that Lisbeth ends up being wanted for multiple murders and that Blomkvist is the one person who believes her innocence. As the story enters a higher paced mode where these murders occur, it becomes very hard to put the book down, and you realise that the time for characterisation is put slightly to the side for a couple of chapters while we get a bit of action and suspense. This is a very welcome change of pace to the book, and although it does return to a slower and more developing style on numerous occasions henceforth, the pace element is never far away.

                The murders and just how contrived the plot is comes with a huge thumbs up for Larsson's ability to develop a plot from scratch. Extremely well worked, there are pages and pages of tense cat and mouse style movements as the police launch a huge public manhunt for Lisbeth, while Blomkvist, as well as Lisbeth's former employer Dragan Armansky, both independently start digging for the truth themselves, the former convinced of her innocence, the latter keen to make sure that no matter the truth, it's revealed without internal corruption from the police.

                Armansky appeared a number of times in the first book, but was never really developed a great deal. We know he runs Milton Security, where Lisbeth did a lot of her research work as a freelance employee, and that he finds her social ineptitude as much an annoyance as anyone else; but he is the one anomaly in the book. Everyone has painstaking descriptive passages of either descriptive text or information inducing dialogue: Armansky does not. He remains somewhat of a mystery in many ways, perhaps the solid lynchpin of Larsson's world in a way, showing that there can be a well presented character without knowing their life history.

                As Armansky cooperates with the police, Blomkvist goes to the brink of obstructing them, relying of journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press and source protecting to make sure he can do his own investigating without the police being able to spend time trying to crack his information. The murders have distinct relevance both personally and professionally to Blomkvist, and Millenium is once more a firm middle ground where a lot of the development and research work takes place. The journo has problems getting hold of Lisbeth, who really has gone to ground, and we see long periods where we're just as much in the dark as to her whereabouts as they all are. This is a clever element of Larsson's writing, as it helps us fill the shoes of the characters themselves when they're having trouble or trying to work out what is going on. His script is quite revealing and transparent, and despite a number of events that become shocking to various characters, they're not necessarily shocking to us as they have already been telegraphed or even displayed in a previous chapter, where we as the reader have been privy to something as if a fly on the wall.

                That is, of course, for the most part, as Larsson manages to do just what he did in the first book, and that is create a plot with a great twist and finale. Whereas the first 150 pages probably took me a week or so, the middle 250 pages took me a few days, and the last 150 pages an afternoon. Once you get into the home straight of the book, it really is very hard to put down, and no matter how many characters' names all sound the same, with forenames that don't help with discerning between male or female, the plot and pace are what's deemed important, and it results in being a monumentally gripping read as it draws to a close.

                Catch 22

                And that is exactly what is frustrating and presents a sort of Catch 22 situation. The end of the book is made excellent by the sudden release of impatience I felt from the majority of the rest of it, as its lengthy descriptions started to take their toll on me. Yet without this annoyance, the ending would just have been very good, as opposed to a really powerful read that is hard to put down. I found that the main characters involved in the end were firmly imprinted on my mind, and I have a firm grip on their visual appearance, so well have they been described.

                Characters or plot?

                I would say that the characters are more important than the actual plot, if this is possible. Larsson has put together a complicated tunnel of history that links a lot of them, with a number of policemen and other officials who deal with cases such as the officially socially inept Lisbeth and her 'guardians', 'psycholtherapists' and other 'bastards' as she calls them; and also a number of villains who emerge from time to time, get given a couple of pages of description before disappearing for a few chapters again. Indeed, the main focus is probably on the mistakes and the various inroads the police make with the investigation, an the police processes, rather than the actual plot at hand, and you almost feel a small dig at the police service and the media as they are made to be rather inefficient and annoying from quite an early stage.

                The language barrier

                I mentioned earlier the confusion between names, yet this is something that cannot be helped. Before his untimely death, Larsson could not have known whether or not his books would translate very well into other languages: they focus on Sweden, and therefore use Swedish names, places, technology, rules, regulations and customs, and if you're not au fait with these then a certain amount of confusion is to be expected. My advice would be to just go with the flow: after all, everything is explained in minute detail!

                The focus

                While the first book concentrated very much on Blomkvist and his investigation into the decades old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, with Lisbeth not really coming into it properly until halfway through, The Girl Who Played With Fire does an about turn and brings on Lisbeth as the main protagonist, Blomkvist taking a passenger seat. This allows the development of the gaps in Lisbeth's history to be plugged to a certain extent, and this is where things get a little tense with the subject matter. A decent part of the book is given over to discussion of the illegal sex trade, and how men treat women badly. The first book features it rather heavily as a large part of the plot, and there are numerous references to it here as well. Millenium, the publication that Blomkvist is editor-in-chief of, is currently working on something big that will expose respected names in all walks of life, while Lisbeth's own chequered past has already met with somewhat awkward passages of text to read about, and gives us more to take in here. As a result, the subject matter at times can be a bit disturbing, although I found it focused less on it than the first book did.

                Final thoughts

                With the exception of the first introductory section to the book, which seems more like padding than anything else, to me, I would say that everything you read will have some sort of relevance at this stage. I have heard that the third book is almost like a second half to this one, and so I imagine that some unanswered questions will gain their responses once I've got that one under my belt, too. For the moment, I'm more interested in seeing how they crack the film version of this second book. The first one was quite good, depending on how you look at it, and I'm intrigued more by the characters than the plot, in this one, and I feel this is the difference in the two books. The first was very much about the plot, while this relies a lot on the characters, as the plot is very much a familiar murder mystery in terms of style.

                I do recommend you read this. I know at times I have beleaguered the lengthy descriptions, and it is frustrating, but I do believe that it's worth struggling through the bits that don't seem relevant, or appear to be dragging. It's a very good book, and Larsson has obviously worked hard at it, painstakingly gathering and developing details in plot, characters and settings. You can currently get a copy for £3.85 from amazon.co.uk, although it currently retails for £7.99, which is pretty much standard for most new paperbacks these days. Recommended, but be prepared for the lengthier bits.

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                  28.07.2010 15:30
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                  A MUST read

                  "The Girl who Played with Fire" is the second novel in the Millennium trilogy by Steig Larson, the first being "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Having really enjoyed the first book I immediately bought the second with some trepidation as so often a sequel does not live up to expectations. However, in this case it was the opposite - if anything the second book was even better than the first and I had great difficulty putting it down. Luckily I has a few days holiday from work and I did a lot of reading!

                  I would not recommend reading the second book without reading the first as the book starts of where the first one finishes and the characters develop in the second novel. Lisebeth Salander, Blomkvist and Armansky the main characters in the first book feature again in the sequel. The story takes off from the start when Salander is wanted in connection with the murder of two journalists. The story moves at a hectic pace and helps to explain why Salander, the expert computer hacker is the enigmatic character that she is as more and more details are revealed about her history and background, what drives her and why she is willing to do to get to the truth.


                  This is a highly compelling often grisly and uncompromising read that I would certainly recommend. I felt that the sex and violence was not gratuitous and is certainly necessary to the plot. Too often we say "I couldn't put a book down" but in this case it is definitely a book you will be glued to.

                  The only downside to the book is that it is translated from Swedish and although the translation is very good the Swedish names and place names did get slightly confusing at times.

                  Sadly Steig Larson dies shortly after completing the third of the novels so there can be no more Salander/Blomkvist tales.

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                  27.05.2010 12:36
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                  A whopper of a novel with a huge plot and a vast array of interesting characters

                  The girl who played with fire by Steig Larsson

                  This book, in fact this series of books, seemed to be everywhere and in everyone's hands by the time I got round to reading it. This is the second novel in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson and I was hooked from the first page to the last.

                  --So what happens in this one?--

                  'In the girl who played with fire' we are thrown into a murder hunt for ex-security analyst Lisbeth Salander for the deaths of a couple who are investigating the world of sex trafficking. Millennium publisher Mikael who befriended Salander (plot line of the previous book) starts his own investigation into the murders trying to help Salander prove her innocence and finish up the investigation at the heart of the sex trafficking. But it isn't as simple as that, there are plot turns and twists everywhere. It's hard to sum up the plot when so much is going on without giving too much away. This is one story that never seems to stop or lower its pace. In my opinion this is a good and entertaining read.

                  --My opinions--

                  I enjoyed this one more than I did the first book in the series 'The girl with the dragon tattoo' by Steig Larson. This book picks off where the last one finished and develops that characters stories. One of the major problems I had with the first book was that I had difficulty keeping up with who was who, as you were introduced to so many main characters all at once. In this one I had a better idea of who everyone was, which made it easier to get into the story.

                  Unlike when i finished the first in the series where I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I enjoyed it but there was a rather big BUT. There were elements of the story in the first book that almost made me stop reading, I found that there were scenes that were just too graphic for my liking, scenes (of abuse to women) that made me wonder whether I should or wanted to carry on reading the book. Despite those (in my opinion) rather big negatives the first book still managed to hold a good plot and an ending that I didn't guess but neither did I feel cheated by it. The second book didn't put me off like the first book had, I found it much more enjoyable and I found that the story was even better than the first.

                  Overall, I think it would be hard to recommend the first book to other people because of how I felt reading certain parts of it, but it was an interesting novel. However, I don't have the same issues with the second novel and would more easily recommend that people read it. If you are going to embark on reading 'The girl who plays with fire' be prepared for some very violent scenes along with a decent plotline.

                  I would give this book a well deserved four dooyoo stars out of five.

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                    01.04.2010 23:13
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                    a book that is amazing!!!!!!

                    Right, this book AMAZED me and I fully enjoyed it. I bought this book simply because I HAD to not because I wanted to do so (even though I also wanted to) but I NEEDED it. The reason I needed this book was because I adored the first book and ended up buying it twice. If you haven't already discovered, this is the second book in the Millennium series. I therefore highly suggest that you read my review on the 1st book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) if you have not done so, before you go about reading this book review, as you may not understand everything I am going to talk about!

                    I first heard about the first book (along with this book and the 3rd book (The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest)) in Waterstones book magazine, which I got free when I first signed up to their advantage card! I took rare interest and only managed to glimpse the cover. Then on Bookcrossing.com someone started a bookring for the 1st book, and I grew excited, I JUST HAD to sign up to receive this book! Then a few months later, there it was in its little small packet! Then a few days later, I ventured to Waterstones and bought this book along with the 1st book as I wanted to re-read it.

                    Stieg Larsson, is another author I had never heard of in my life ever, before I had read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", and I was a little upset once I had finished the book and read the author's profile "about the author" text, as it talked about the fact that he wanted to make a ten book series, unfortunately for him, he died just after giving over the first 3 books he had written. So in memory of him, they released these 3 books, calling it a trilogy, and they are now upset that he was unable to see what a phenomenon these books have become. That made me feel saddened as there is only 3 books he has ever wrote and published and I would have liked to have read more books from him, as his writing style is encapturing and invigorating! Considering I have only one book left to read of his, I am going to take my time getting that book, maybe wait for it to come down in price or something, so that I can put off reading it for a while as I know that as soon as I finish that book, then I will never read another book by him ever again, and that will really sadden me. I may have to re-read the trilogy over and over again just to re-live his amazing writing style.

                    The plot outline is far from simple, but people who read my previous review should know that already as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was also far from simple, but considering this, the book(s) do not seem simple and it's pretty easy to get carried away while reading.

                    This book is fairly the same as it's prequel, as it follows the lives of the characters we have already met. This means that we find out more about their previous lives, and what is now happening in them. I would say that Lisbeth Salander becomes our main character, taking over the role of Mikael Blomkvist. I think this because we follow her story more than we do of Blomkvist's, which is different from this book's prequel as Salander was a minor character until about half-way through.

                    The ending of the first book gives us a few hints of what Salander has been up to lately, and we get the idea that she has had tonnes of time on her hands. Blomkvist has also been pretty busy, with running his own magazine with joint partners Erica Berger and 2 others. Millennium is approached by someone called Dag Svensson who has an idea for a book and an article to run with it, however it is very controversial and in order to do so Blomkvist wants it air-tight correct with correct references to prevent people from finding things that are not fully backed up.

                    We then find out that Dag Svensson and his girlfriend Mia Johansson has been killed inside their home, not only that but Lisbeth's DNA has been found on the murder weapon. Then not long after, the police start investigating her guardian, who has also been found dead in his home as well, and not only that, but it looks the murder weapon is the same as the one found at Dag and Mia's home.

                    Lisbeth is prime suspect, and it seems that it is highly likely she has done it due to the fact that she has suddenly disappeared off the face of the planet. The only person who truly believes Salander wouldn't have done such a thing is Mikael Blomkvist, and his doing everything he possibly can to investigate and truly find out who did kill his friends and also who truly has set up Salander.

                    So who is my favourite character? Well that's one dead-easy question... I really do like Salander's character, she is well-developed in the 2 books I have read so far, and I enjoy it when the book flits onto her story. What I mean is, is that the book likes to follow certain characters and one minute you will be reading about Salander, and then you'll be reading about Blomkvist. This may be a little confusing for some people, but to be honest I don't think I've explained it very good, so please don't let my bad way of explaining put you off, it isn't at all complicated, and I am really sorry if I have put it over that way.

                    I am happy that I read this book and its prequel. The reason why is because it has helped me to choose a career choice. If you had asked me 6 months ago what I wanted to do when I have been through all my education, I wouldn't have been able to answer, some days I wanted to be some person and another day I wanted to be something else, I couldn't choose. Thanks to these books I have managed to choose my path rather than being stuck at a cross roads not knowing where I was going. I have now decided I want to become a journalist, and I am currently look at all the universities that do a journalism degree, and I am hoping that I could possibly get into one that also does a creative writing course. This will help me with my main objective which is to finally be an author, and hopefully own my own magazine, but that may take a number of years and I am prepared to wait that long. I truly believe that this book along with its prequel really helped me to make that decision, and the death of Stieg Larsson has influenced that decision further. So this just shows that this book is not only perfect for people who wants a nice, exciting read that is just pure escapism and is very enjoyable, it really can help you with your future.

                    In this part of my review, I tend to choose what genre this book is supposed to be in, and although the book is highly definable as a crime or thriller novel, I wouldn't really believe that to be true. I feel that this book is really not that easy to define as a specific genre, as I'm a hundred percent sure that this book could fit in every single genre about even the weird and wacky ones. This book really does fit into every single genre about and I very much doubt that someone can tell me a genre that this book cannot possibly be fit into, if someone can think of a genre it doesn't fit into I'll be happy to discuss it.

                    I really enjoyed this, but I think you can guess that already. It was extremely interesting, and I wish the author was still alive as I'd be able to thank him sometime for not only creating the books but also helping me make a career choice. As I had read the first book I found this one really easy to get into and I think I read this book in 3 days which just shows how much I enjoyed this book, and how easy it is to get into. As for the end... Well you'll have to read that yourself, but let me tell you I found some bits surprising but then some bits hilarious, it all depends on where you think the ending is. The whole book has lots of twists in and so of course the ending has a twist in it too, so don't read it thinking there will not be any twists, as that is a big mistake. I also think this book is a pure fun read but it is also one to make you think, again this shows that the book cannot be put into a specific area, and I think that is why it has become such a phenomenal read as it suits everyone and anyone. This book will be in your thoughts for days on end, I read this book about a month ago and it is still dwindling in my thoughts. I do also plan on re-reading it, I may have to do that once a year, it sure is a book you really do not want to put down, and one you'll re-read over and over again!

                    If you reckon this book is not for you, then I'm not going to try and interest you, but I believe that I really have told you that this book is for you and that it is one for everyone, well that's not strictly true as I have to tell parents that you shouldn't let children read this one, or the prequel as it is EXTREMELY adulty, if that makes sense, as sexual aspects are found in both books so I highly recommend that parents do not let their children read this. Even I am shocked at some of the content in the books and I'm seventeen, and I understand that the author could not possibly get rid of the sexual scenes as they are important within both books, but it is also very shocking, and the reason why I think Stieg Larsson put it in because he wanted everyone to read it and some people like to read about some of the stuff involved, so I am urging all parents not to let children read this, and if you are going to let them make sure you truly believe they are old enough to do so. I totally believe that it is the parent's choice to make this decision and not anyone else, and all children vary. I usually think that books should have a age rating on them, like DVD's do too, but sometimes I contradict myself when I think that, because some people believe that rules are applied because they are meant to be broken, it is highly rare to find someone who is 17 and under who has not watched an 18 DVD, or someone 14 and under who has not watched a 15 DVD et cetera.

                    I think the thing I have just mentioned may be the only bad point, but then again that is purely my opinion and when I re-read this book when I'm in my 20's or 30's then maybe this would no longer be a bad point. So if I exclude that point, I think that there is no other bad points that I can find, and even though there will be parts in the book where people may think that the part is a point that is bad, you must take in the fact that this book is made for everyone and anyone (except children) and so therefore it is meant to fit in nearly every genre and therefore you personally may think it as a disadvantage, others will think of it as an advantage.

                    Overall I fully recommend this book to everyone except for children, which I have already mentioned above. I think this fits for everyone and I doubt I'll find someone who didn't enjoy this book. I thank everyone for reading this book and I really do recommend this book, so please rate this review, and then tomorrow go out and buy this book, or if you are unable to do so, then use Amazon or play.com as an alternative!

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                      18.02.2010 10:06
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                      Excellent 2nd book from Stieg.

                      The Girl who Played with Fire
                      by Stieg Larsson

                      I started to read this book as a follow up to the first book. Stieg Larsson has a triology, and the Girl who played with Fire is the second book.

                      1. The Girl with a dragon tattoo
                      2. The Girl Who Played With Fire
                      3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

                      All 3 books are regarding the journalist called Mikael Blomkvist who works for a his own publishing company, Lisabeth Salander, who is a very introverted person, and as a reader you don't know much about her part from that she's very different to everyone around her, and it's a journey to find out more about her and the relationship with Blomkvist.

                      In The Girl Who Played With Fire, Salander has a more central role and the story revolves around her life, from the start of the book to the end you know you will find out alot more about salander and who she really is.

                      Salander returns to Sweden after an adventurous year abroad, having dumped Blomkvist without explanation before leaving. He is back in charge at Millennium. The journal is about to publish an exposé of sex trafficking into Sweden from Russia and other countries. The two authors of the articles and of a follow-up book are to reveal details of rampant under-age prostitution, and to name its organisers and users - who include senior policemen.

                      Shortly before publication the two are shot dead. The Gun used to kill them is found to belong to the lawyer who had been Salander's guardian and had abused his position by raping her. The fingerprints on the gun are Salander's. Salander is now the chief suspect of triple murder. Blomkvist is convinced of her innocence, but his efforts to persuade her to co-operate with him in finding the real murderers are rebuffed. Evading the police search, she conducts her own inquiries, but does give Blomkvist one lead - the name Zala. The Girl who Played with Fire becomes an absorbing, exciting and bloody multi-layered chase involving Salander, Blomkvist, the police and a variety of unpleasant and sadistic twists and turns.

                      Once you start reading this book you will not put it down, it's very gripping, I finished this in less than a week and can't wait to start the 3rd book.

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                      15.01.2010 13:13
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                      .

                      Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about sex trafficking in Sweden are murdered, and Salander's prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her. Mikael Blomkvist, editor-in-chief of Millennium, does not believe the police. Using all his magazine staff and resources to prove Salander's innocence, Blomkvist also uncovers her terrible past, spent in criminally corrupt institutions. Yet Salander is more avenging angel than helpless victim. She may be an expert at staying out of sight - but she has ways of tracking down her most elusive enemies. (Taken from
                      http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781906694180/T he-Girl-Who-Played-with-Fire?b=-3&t=-20#Fulldescription-20).


                      This book started off pretty much in the same way as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it has a really slow and quite dull start. Unlike other books that have a dramatic build up to the main storyline, this one is very, very slow to begin and sometimes I was left wondering when the sort proper was going to start. Then suddenly without realizing the shift you find that the book is getting quite exciting and dramatic.

                      The book has the same main characters as the first and if you haven't read the first book you'll find this one hard to follow in parts because there are a lot of references to the original story, and you would have missed a lot of the background to the heroines life, making it hard to understand why she acts like she does. Her life is explained somewhat in the book, but not until the last quarter of the book, and by then I imagine that anyone not knowing what happened originally will have given it up because none of it makes sense.

                      Once the story gets going it runs at a good pace, but there's still a lot of unnecessary detail that slows the whole thing down. I know I haven't made it sound great, but it is a good story and a good book, you just need to be prepared to put a bit of work into reading it. So if you're the sort of person who likes holiday reads where you don't need to think too hard, then this book won't be for you.

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                        12.01.2010 18:26

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                        Brillianr buy it now!

                        The second book in Stig Larsons excellent trilogy.

                        Please only consider reading this if you have read the first! The book focusses on the main character whom by now you know well. Lisebeth Salander and all her secrets gradually unravel over 500 pages of excellent writting.

                        Its not often you can read a book and now see the plot twists coming if you are a fan of the crime genre, but sometimes I had to reread pages in amazement- how did that happen? where did that come from? And often the plot had developed so subtely that the twists were a genuine surprise.

                        Again I could not put this book down - I also did't realise I had come to the last pages...there I was turning over page after page and then.... nothing.... to be continued. I had to wait a few weeks for the final book in the trilogy to be published and it was agony!

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                        10.01.2010 17:33
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                        Definitely worth a read for fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

                        This is the second in Stieg Larsson's hugely acclaimed "Millennium" trilogy.

                        **NB possible spoiler alerts for those who haven't read the first - important to read these three books in order (listed at the end of this review)**

                        Stieg Larsson has received much posthumous praise for this trilogy and it's easy to understand why - all three books are tightly plotted with fantastic characters.

                        A word of warning - I found that books 2 and 3 of the trilogy read very much like two parts of a whole, so if you're getting into the second book you may want to have the third by your side, ready to pick up as soon as you've finished with this one!

                        Following their success in bringing down a multi-national corporation in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander face another crime mystery to solve in The Girl Who Played With Fire. Briefly, the premise is a planned expose by Blomkvist's publication on the sex trafficking trade in Sweden - not without risk due to the number of public officials who will be exposed as a result. Lisbeth Salander is dealing with her own troubles, but gradually the two plots become inextricably linked, in a puzzle which the two protagonists must race against time to unlock.

                        As with the first in this series, I cannot get enough of the two main characters, particularly Lisbeth Salander, who is a brilliant contemporary anti-heroine, unprecedented in my view. Mikael Blomkvist's attempts to understand her and be a part of her life are intriguing to follow, and I really enjoy the terse, fizzing chemistry between the two.

                        I know that this installment of the trilogy has come in for its share of flack, and I do understand why - the narrative feels disjointed in places and lots of questions are left unanswered. For me, this is about seeing the second and third books as two parts of a whole, as mentioned above. For example, Erika Berger (Blomkvist's colleague and part-time lover) has a storyline which feels unrelated to the action in this book - but which comes into sharp focus in the second.

                        I really enjoyed the scenes where Lisbeth is in her newly-acquired apartment, looking out onto the city in increasing bemusement as she is tracked by a number of official and not so official sources. I can see why others felt these slowed down the action, but for me they were key to her character development - particularly as we see more evidence of her computer hacking skills and network. This also allows the relationship between her and Blomkvist to develop and (almost) flourish.

                        The real action is towards the end of the book, as the various parts of the jigsaw start to come together and the final scene is breathtaking (this is why you'll want the third lined up and ready to go!).

                        I have mentioned in my review of the first book that occasionally the narrative can feel a little clunky and verging on trite - and I continue to think that this is a result of a less than excellent translation rather than the actual quality of Larsson's writing - so it's well worth trying to see past some of those minor irritations.

                        Overall an intense, gripping read, but one which needs the third book as its counterpart rather than a standalone read.

                        The Millenium trilogy comprises three titles:

                        1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                        2. The Girl Who Played with Fire
                        3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

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