Book: ‘Girl Who Played With Fire’ is a real page-turner

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 7, 2009

“The Girl Who Played With Fire,” by Stieg Larsson. Knopf. 503 pp. $25.95.By Alicia Rancilio
Associated Press
Swedish crime writer Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire” marks the return of Lisbeth Salander, a young woman who could be the female Jason Bourne.
She’s a mysterious, emotionally detached computer hacker who coolly observes the world around her as a puzzle she needs to master to feel secure.She was a main character in Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” where she helped rogue Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist solve a murder. In that book, Salander and Blomkvist forged an unlikely alliance, and their relationship became sexual.
“The Girl Who Played With Fire” is easier to follow than “Dragon Tattoo” ó and more interesting. It’s an intelligent, fascinating story that draws readers in, and keeps them turning the page.
This time, Salander has cut herself off completely from Blomkvist. She wants nothing to do with him because Salander realizes that she had developed strong feelings for him. She can’t handle that type of intimacy or vulnerability.
They become involved again when Salander is accused of murder. Blomkvist is the only one who believes she’s innocent of the crime.
While Larsson’s first book had a subplot about business, this one calls attention to Sweden’s sex trade. Young women are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
It’s fun to experience the world through Salander’s eyes. She’s a fearless femme fatale who is always a step ahead of everyone else. And it’s refreshing to see a strong (although flawed) young woman who can fend for herself ó and take on the bad guys.
The author died of a heart attack in 2004 at age 50. He left behind the manuscripts of three books. The first, “Dragon Tattoo,” became an international success. The third installment, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” will be released in the U.S next year.