The Girl who Played with Fire


I am convinced this book is wrongly named. Lisbeth Salander the protagonist is definitely not the girl who plays with fire – she is fire.

This book is the second in the Millennium series written by Stieg Larsson. I have reviewed the first book here.

While the first book introduces Salander as a character, this one goes in-depth into her troubled past, and the reasons why she is the way she is. The mystery is Salander itself.


Mikail Blomqvist and another reporter from Millennium magazine are investigating a story on sex-trafficking – young girls are being brought from Eastern Europe, and forced into prostitution. This investigation threatens to bring down many high-ranking Swedish officials who are involved directly or indirectly in this trade.

Unknown to Mikail Blomqvist (the hero from the first novel), the investigation touches upon Lisbeth Salander’s past with whom he is no longer in touch.

When the journalist doing the primary research on this story is murdered, suspicion falls upon Salander. Blomqvist believing her innocent, starts his own investigation into what really happened.


First off, I have to say I loved this book. It was fast-paced, gripping, with just the right amount of thrills. That said, it’s not perfect. Heck! anything rarely is!

However, one major plot point seems outrageously weak to me. It was hard for me to believe that the Swedish Secret Police (Sapo) would work so hard to maintain and protect Zalachenko (a Russian secret service agent who defected to Sweden) long past his use/value to Sweden. Even when he becomes a complete embarrassment, he is protected by them. Why? How much easier would it have been to kill and dispose him of quietly? No one would have made any fuss about it. If Salander could find and track him so easily, then it should have been a cakewalk for the Sapo. The addition of a James Bondesque villain (a giant man who is incapable of feeling pain) also brings down the standard of the book.

Apart from these issues, I did not find any flaws in the book. I even liked the mundane details of Salander’s life – the shopping in Ikea, her standard diet of Billy’s Pan Pizza. Those details showed just how isolated and lonely her life was.

I am rather puzzled at the inclusion of the character of Paulo Roberto (a non-fictional boxer) who plays a minor role in the book. His role in the story is not at all relevant, and nothing would have been lost from the book, if his part in the story was not included. Anybody have any ideas why he has been included in the book?

If you close your thoughts to the above voices of reason, and if you loved Salander from the first book, you will love this book wholeheartedly.

Note: I am including this book towards the Orbis Terrarrum reading challenge.

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  • Loved it. Did you watch the swedish movies?

    • @Melinda: No, I didn’t watch any of the movies. I was a bit squeamish about actually seeing any of the violence on screen.

      • You should consider watching them 🙂

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  • definitely a must have book!

  • am reading book 1 now

    • @theanalogkid: let me know what you think of all the hacking/techno geek bits 😉

  • I have heard a lot about this series.. I bought the first book this weekend.. planning to read it soon.. read your review without spoilers.. let me read the book and get back 🙂

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  • i LOVED this book too. I have a feeling Roberto will have more role in the 3rd book, which I am yet to read. Salander is not a normal investigator, so if she knows something ang and can get to something, doesn’t at all mean that anyone else can. The chances are no one can 🙂
    Baddies can not be killed…. I reserve my comments on that till I read the next book 😀

    • @givingreadingachance: I hope so, otherwise it’s somewhat meaningless. I have started on part 3 already, and so far, it’s pretty good!

  • kat

    I have only read the first book so far. I need to order the second because I really liked the first.

    • @kat: You really should order the second (and the third). Both these books are very closely related and really should be read together

  • I didn’t read the “with” spoilers part because I am yet to read the book. O can’t wait to though! I loved the first one and the second is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read!

  • Teri

    Holy cow, you must be a lightening fast reader! Didn’t you just finish Gulliver’s Travels? You must not watch TV…
    Teri 🙂

    • @Teri: No, I don’t watch much TV…but also this is a book that I just couldn’t put down 🙂

  • Ahahaa! I loved this book too. And I’m glad I found someone who has the same views as me about the title. I loved Lisbeth’s character. It was deep and really well written.
    I preferred the second and third books of this trilogy rather than the first. I found that the ‘first’ was more like ‘to set the scene.’
    On Blomkvist, he is a realistic character but, I don’t really like him. It was a good series, overall.

    • @FuzzyLogic: Even I don’t care for Blomqvist much. Can’t simply understand how so many women fall for him so easily.

      Your point about the first book seems very valid. Now that I think about it, it more or less set the stage for the actual series.

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