The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson fulfilled the “Book Published Posthumously” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. Mr. Larson died in November 2004. The novel was published in Sweden in 2006, then translated to English in 2009. It is the second in the Millennium Series.
I opted to read this long story because I had a copy in the house. My other choice was Agatha Christie’s autobiography, another enormous book. Thinking a novel would flow faster, I chose the 700-page novel vs the 500-page tome. I don’t know if I was wrong or not, but I started the tale in February. I finished it at the beginning of July.
So there ya go.
The story follows up the life of Lisbeth Sanders after the whole crazy first book. Yes, crazy—too many plots, too many words, not enough editing. I can say the same for this book but first the plot. If you skip to the second half of the novel, the storyline turns to a murder of two Millennium reporters about to release an expose on the sex trade in Sweden. Lisbeth is suspected as the murderer.
I will focus on the second half of the story. The first 300 pages wandered and dumped back story. There were so many unnecessary events that I threw it across the room several times. I’m not even sure why I finished it.
Anyway, the murder mystery part…I loved how Mr. Larsson set up the discovery of the murder and the manhunt for Lisbeth. We don’t get another section in her point of view forever (well, for several chapters). The technique builds suspense perfectly. The reader is forced to continue to find out if she’s guilty. Mr. Larsson’s insight to use multiple agencies to research the crime worked well. Using many perspectives, it showed how a slight shift in purpose, commitment, or bias can change an investigation. We follow the police, the magazine staff, the security agency, and Lisbeth’s own inquiries. Mr. Larsson’s examination of department politics speaks volumes.
The story in this novel moved much faster (again after page 300) than in his first novel. With an old closed-door mystery, he could not have the chases, the gunfights, etc. In this book, the pacing took us from action scene to action scene with respites in-between. With more editing, it would’ve been a show-stopping thriller. Though I liked the ending, and it seemed like a natural ending to the story, the scene with Lisbeth in the grave felt contrived. We all knew she wasn’t dead, even if there hadn’t been other books in the series. He shocked me, for a second. So I’ll be quiet.
It was a best seller but not a great book. Sales don’t equate great fiction. I always seem to have trouble with the best sellers. I don’t like them so much. Popular books are not always well-written but have more of a compelling aspect to them. Like Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not going down the rabbit hole here, but the tale was gripping, sexy, and appealing. The writing was not to my liking, but the story was there. I think The Girl Who Played with Fire falls into the same category. Great story, sloppy writing needing major tweaks.
I give The Girl Who Played with Fire three stars because it was poorly edited.