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Where there’s smoke …

BY KRISTEN PETERS | JULY 28, 2009 7:07 AM

Solving mysteries has never been so sexy.

Lisbeth Salander undoubtedly captures the reader in the sensational second part of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire. The book, released today, continues the story of genius Salander and her ex-lover, the amorous Mikael Blomkvist.

Salander is the mastermind behind computer hacking and private investigations through the firm that has hired her as a pity favor two years earlier.

Introduced in the first of the trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (originally titled Men Who Hate Women), Salander is an outstandingly complex character dreamt up by the late Larsson, who died in 2004. She is an anorexic-looking woman who, despite recently undergoing breast implants, passes off as 15 before she does 24 and has recurring memories of her sexually abused past.

Which is why it doesn’t sit well with her when she finds out Blomkvist is aiding his team at the magazine Millennium in shedding light on the human-trafficking scandal in parts of Western Europe.

Salander, who has kept Blomkvist’s hard drive in her access since they were lovers the year before, has read and reread the case studies of the human traffickers and their leader, the elusive Zala. Appalled, she takes it into her own hands to make the wrongdoers suffer.

Her luck with the case runs out when her fingerprints show up at a crime scene involving three murdered connections to the trafficking case.

This is when charming Blomkvist steps in and attempts to save the distressed and disappeared young woman, as he tried in the first novel. But Salander has done what she does best, and vanishes, unable to be tracked.

To be frank, Larsson’s writing skills aren’t enough to set him apart from most other mainstream authors. The writing in The Girl Who Played With Fire is straightforward and simple, he leaves the flowery prose to the chick-lit novels on the other shelf. His uncanny sense of mystery and his ability to twist the reader up into a story that is so insane it is sure to drive anyone crazy.

The release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rivals the popularity of Harry Potter overseas. This trilogy adds the deep intellect of the higher-ups in Stockholm and the entirely fabricated, easily hated, but absolutely adored tattooed and pierced Salander. Not to mention her strikingly handsome Holmes to her Watson.

Understandably, this book doesn’t hold weight on its own and to appreciate the true dynamic between the two main characters and their minor altercations with passersby, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo needs to be first on the “To Do” list.

However, this posthumous publication success has made its mark with its chilling plot line and delicate character relationships and the second stop in the trilogy should not be ignored.

Just be prepared for the warped mystery and the incomprehensible names.


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