When I finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo earlier this year, I felt I needed a break before I went on to the next book in the series. It had been a hard book for me to read when I reached a certain point because of all the violence against women. What had started out as a financial thriller had suddenly changed course and turned very dark.
I liked the book. It was well written and had an interesting, if somewhat farfetched, plot. But most of all, the two main characters caught and held my empathy. I wanted things to turn out well for them, especially for Lisbeth Salander, but that book ended on a down note for Salander and so I was anxious to see what would happen to her in the second book.
Well, in the second installment of Stieg Larsson's series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, things go from bad to worse. Lisbeth is accused of three brutal murders and a nationwide hunt for her begins. The only one who seems to have any doubts of her guilt is Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist with whom she teamed in the first book. The journalist whose life she saved in one of the climactic moments. He sets out to investigate the murders on his own and to prove her innocence. He finds more than he bargained for.
Lisbeth is still the angry punk hacker with the numerous piercings and tattoos. She's a loner who seems to have no friends and yet we find that, when all the world seems to be against her, there are actually some people who care about her, believe in her, and who come to her defense. As the story plays out in this well-plotted sequel, we learn more and more about her past and about how she came to be the person that she is.
The violence in this book is not so one-sided or so graphically described as in the first book and so it was a much easier read for me. The denouement at the end is well-constructed and the suspense is built for the dramatic conclusion.
Coincidences abound in the book and serve to drive the plot, and yet the reader accepts them. After all, Sweden is a relatively small country and such coincidences could happen, couldn't they?
I couldn't put this book down and now I am going to immediately read the third book. I want to know what happens to that girl - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.