The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second novel in Larsson’s much-praised Millennium trilogy, and pick Lisbeth Salander’s story up some months after the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I talked about here).

It’s always difficult to talk about the plot of a book which is part of a series and I suppose theoretically could be read as a standalone but does really need some knowledge of its predecessor to really make sense. 

Suffice to say that Blomkvist is now a major celebrity and Lisbeth is no longer in touch with him. Because of stuff that happened in the previous story some nasty people are out to get Lisbeth, and this leads to her being suspected of murdering three people. So the bulk of the story covers her on the run while trying to find out what’s going on.

Separately, Blomkvist is trying to clear Lisbeth’s name; two of the victims were friends/colleagues of his and he doesn’t belive Lisbeth committed the crime (though interestingly enough not because she isn’t capable of doing so). It’s her capacity for wreaking revenge on those who have treated her badly or offended her very personal moral code that makes her such a compelling character.

It’s all very grim, with strong violence particularly (but not solely) against women – the original journalistic investigation which kicks all of this off is about sex trafficking, continuing the theme of the exploitation of women as a hidden facet of Swedish society which characterised the first book.

In the end, how you react to this will depend on your stomach for the subject matter and whether you warm to the character of Lisbeth. I thought this was a very powerful story with some quite appalling events and revelations at the end of the book which mean that I will definitely be picking up the final volume in the series.

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