Feature

Novel of the week: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The follow-up to <em>The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo </em>finds Lisbeth Salander suspected by police in three high-profile murders.

(Knopf, $25.95)

Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander is unlike “any other crime fighter in literature,” said Joshua Levine in Newsweek. Introduced in the inter­national best-seller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the pierced Stockholm punk is Pippi Longstocking put through “a meat grinder of institutional abuse.” What readers get is “an anorexic Lara Croft who outthinks everybody” and trusts no one. Her creator, Stieg Larsson, wrote at least three books about her before dying of a heart attack in 2004, said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. In this follow-up to Tattoo, she’s “less detective than quarry,” suspected by police in three high-profile murders that appear linked to a Swedish sex-trafficking ring. As Salander’s estranged lover, ­journalist Mikael Blomkvist, works to prove her innocence, Larsson shows himself to be “overly fond of coincidence” as a plot device. But even the author’s “lurid melodramatics” rarely loosen the story’s grip. Salander and Blomkvist, with their “oddball individuality,” are simply too compelling. They “transcend their genre.”

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