The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson – 7/10

The second tome in Stieg Larsson’s worldwide bestselling Millennium trilogy was not as exciting as the first – I suspect this is because I already knew the characters and their foibles (their many foibles), and also because, having now read the first page of book 3, I can tell that this second instalment is actually the first part of a long second story, which is split over books 2 and 3.

Anyway. This time we delve much deeper into the characters’ personal worlds, with the murder victims being colleagues and friends of our protagonists, and an enormous quantity of back-story for Lisbeth. All of it is still skilfully told, without the exposition feeling clunky or out-of-place. There was also substantial character development (especially for Lisbeth, given all the back-story), which I was really pleased by because so often in series all the character development is done in the first book and after that the protagonist is like one of those paper clothes dolls – just apply a new set of crime mystery.

But all in all I was a little disappointed with this one – it was much slower in the setting up of the mystery. I thought there was a bit too much focus on relationships (casual or otherwise) – an increase for the worse from the first book. I was also underwhelmed by the translation this time – there were a few idioms (including “as tall as a hand’s breath”) which appear to have been transliterated from the Swedish – they applied a sudden jerk to the pace of the book.

Still a good read, but nowhere near as good as “Dragon Tattoo”.

EDIT after reading Book 3 – Book 2 might not be as exciting as 1, but it’s definitely required reading for Book 3.

Reviews from other blogs: The Millions

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