The cold blooded murders of a journalist and a scholar, who were about to publish a shocking expose on the sex trade in Sweden, are blamed on bad girl Lisbeth Salander. Salander’s life has been far from normal, continually victimized as she has been since early childhood, at the hands of both family and state. Now she’s a brilliant but psychologically damaged young woman, one who can solve Fermat’s mathematical theorem or hack into any computer system, but she is truly incapable of connecting with people. Salander emerges as a hybrid of James Bond and Dirty Harry.
The murder investigation plays out in several arenas, as the police, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and Salander herself are working independently to track down the true perpetrators of the crime. Author Larsson does a fantastic job with plot and characters, and while Salander is a veritable sociopath, as her background unfolds, it’s possible to understand her paranoia and violence. Several of her antagonists are memorable for their physical characteristics and their horrific deeds. True, there are many over-the-top sequences in this thriller, but as in the case of James Bond, the reader is willing to sacrifice a modicum of reality for the thrill of the chase. The Girl Who Played with Fire takes on repulsive villains and appalling moral issues with intelligence and aplomb, never failing to engross and entertain. Highly recommended.