In Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second installment in his Millennium Trilogy, it opens with protagonists Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander world’s apart, literally. But just like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, both Blomkvist and Salander are drawn together in a riveting mystery in which one is aiming to avenge the injustice of her life and the other looking to save her even if she doesn’t him to. The addition of old and new characters to help define give depth to not only the mystery but the dimensions of the fascinating dark version of Sweden that Larsson conceived.
For the first quarter to a third of the book, the stage is set for the event that launches the action for the rest of the book. Though at times it is slow, Larsson’s execution after the “event” shows the genius of that stage setting. For significant portion of the middle of the book Salander is not heard from making the reader wonder what her true roll in the “event” was. In the meantime, the reader follows the police, Blomkvist, and others as they react to the “event” until Salander shows up once again and things really start to get interesting as not only do we find out what happened to her during the “event” but also the explanation of her life before The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Although I was a tad annoyed with all the build up at the beginning of the book, Larsson’s seemingly non-stop pace throughout the rest of the book more than makes up for it. The Girl Who Played with Fire is a amazing middle installment to this trilogy, building not only what came before but also setting the stage for what promises to be a fantastic finale.