The Girl Who Played with Fire

By: Stieg Larsson

Warning! There are very minor spoilers ahead for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the description below. I don’t want to ruin any of the story development from the first book for my lovely readers, so please continue at your own discretion.

After news broke of his heroic comeback in the Wennerström Affair, Mikael Blomkvist not only restored his shattered reputation but also became the household name of crusading journalism overnight. Now faced with the opportunity for lightning to strike twice, Mikael plans to publish a harrowing exposé that will shed light on Sweden’s underage sex trade. However, before Millennium gets to run their latest piece, two people connected to the research are murdered, and the prime suspect is none other than Mikael’s curious friend, Lisbeth Salander.

With nothing to go on except Salander’s violent past and declaration of incompetence, the police department frames her as public enemy number one. The lead detective refuses to believe Mikael’s claims that Lisbeth is a highly intelligent (if fiercely private) researcher which forces Blomkvist to take up his own investigation. Just like in his hunt for Harriet Vanger, the journalist becomes single-mindedly obsessed with finding Salander and proving her innocence. Meanwhile, secluded from society, Salander comes face-to-face with a past she would much rather forget as she tries to figure out who framed her and why.

I can honestly say that this story was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. If you are anticipating a story that is similar to the first book, then you will likely be disappointed.

For starters, Larsson did a nice job of making the story feel like a real police investigation…well, a corrupt investigation at least. In this story there is certainly plenty of drama: false claims, sensational press, leaks to the media, and a lot of unfounded, yet seemingly logical, assumptions. That aspect of the story was very believable as I think such issues happen in our media on a daily basis. What I didn’t like was how half of the story was essentially people (especially the police) saying that they didn’t know anything. Literally, the majority of the story was either people making crap up or picking a wrong angle. If you are looking to read something that will make you have a visceral reaction to reporters and shoddy police work, then this book is for you.

I have come to the realization that most of Larsson’s writing is about random chance encounters and fortuitous events that just so happen to lead the characters on their merry way. Such events made quite a lot of the story seem completely absurd which was a sentiment mirrored in the attitude of the lead detective who every five minutes seemed to be saying how none of his information made sense. That was fun.

Oh, but my favorite part (sarcasm) was how there is literally a 200 page stretch where you do not hear from or know anything  about what is going on with Salander. Now, from a suspense standpoint, I suppose this could be a good thing. I wanted to get to her narrative, so I kept reading. However, she’s also the character I like to read the perspective from the most, and those 200 pages dragged on a lot longer than they should have. Frankly, that section could have probably been condensed to some degree.

The ending was a page turner. I’ll give it that. But I don’t enjoy waiting until the last moment for something truly thrilling to happen. I prefer books where those moments seem to happen throughout, and I didn’t get as many of those in this book as I did the first one. I’m still looking forward to reading the third novel though because I want to see how Stieg Larsson wrapped up his original trilogy before the story was taken over by David Lagercrantz.

All in all this book is a slow burn…yes, that was a shitty pun. You’re welcome.

Overall Rating: 3

P.S. If you want a tip for this book, pay close attention to the beginning. It’ll blow your mind later.



  1. Hi Alex,

    I was so excited to receive a Frankfiction! I read your review (very nice), was a little confused initially, as I did not realize the ‘Tattoo’ was the first in a series. Looks like there will be a few more books coming down the pike after the Girl Who Played With Fire. I always liked knowing that more books were coming on the story/subject I just finished.

    Congratulations to you Miss College Graduate, yay!! So, so proud of you, and I know the perfect, or almost perfect, job will come your way.

    Looking forward to seeing you, lots of love,



    1. Thank you, Aunt Kathy! Turns out there are actually 3 books in the series that Stieg Larsson wrote. Unfortunately, he passed away, but a successor took up the series after him. The successor has written 2 books and now there are a total of 5 featuring the lead character, Lisbeth Salander. Pretty cool right?


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