Stieg Larsson gleaned a remarkable degree of success before his too-early death in 2004. He had delivered to his publisher three remarkable crime novels; the initial book in his ‘Millennium’ sequence, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
, had enjoyed an unprecedented success in his native Sweden before the translation took the UK by storm. Larsson had made a considerable mark as a crusading journalist, with a speciality in tackling political extremist groups. But he offered assistance to many people and groups who he felt were vulnerable – something of a modern hero, in fact.
One of Larsson's key achievements as a writer was to create an innovative kind of heroine for the crime novel. His unconventional sleuth, the highly intelligent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, is a confrontational young woman, whose Goth accoutrements sometimes alienate those around her (except the individuals she opts to have sexual relations with – strictly, that is, according to the rules she lays down). In the second book in the Millennium sequence, The Girl Who Played with Fire (as in its its predecessor), Lisbeth's closest ally is the older journalist Mikael Blomqvist, even though she has abruptly ended her emotional relationship with him. Lisbeth has left all she knows behinds her and has begun a relationship with a gauche young lover. But after a grim revenge run-in with a man who has abused her, she becomes a suspect in three murders, and is the subject of a nationwide search. Blomqvist, however, is convinced of her innocence (he has just been responsible for a blistering report on the sex trafficking industry in Sweden), and is determined to help her – whether she wants his help or not.
As with Larsson’s earlier book, this is highly compelling fare, with tautly orchestrated suspense; it's often grisly and uncompromising (not a problem for many readers), and the massive text may be longer than is good for it, but Larsson admirers won't begrudge the late author a word,and will be impatient for the third (and, regrettably, concluding) book in the sequence. --Barry Forshaw
As good as crime writing gets - Times Literary Supplement. A gripping novel, driven by a mixture of anger and warmth - Financial Times. Darkly wonderful adventure - Scotland on Sunday. Unmissable - London Lite. It's that rare thing; a thoughtful contemporary thriller with its heart and its head in the right place - Tribune. The huge pleasure of these books is Salander, a fascinating creation - Mark Lawson, Guardian. Even more gripping and astonishing than the first … this novel will leave readers on the edge of their seats - Joan Smith, Sunday Times. An absorbing, exciting and bloody multi-layered chase … the climax is a feast of gore … a riveting read - The Times. Stieg Larsson is, as we say, definitely having a moment … the writing is gripping, the plotting masterly - Rachel Johnson, Sunday Times.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is that rare thing - a sequel that is even better than the book that went before … it is to be read in great hungry chunks - Observer.
It is rare to find a thriller in which the female characters are allowed so much space to be. Lisbeth Salander really is a wonderful creation - Scotsman.
Astonishing novels … Larsson came up with an entirely new kind of heroine for the crime story … as with Larsson's first novel, this is wonderful stuff - Daily Express.
A year ago, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won ecstatic praise from British critics and readers. Now its successor, The Girl who Played with Fire has outsold the likes of Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson … once more, another figure seizes the book by the scruff of its neck and binds the reader in fetters of fascination - Independent.
As with the first book, this complex novel is not just a thrilling read, but tackles head-on the kind of issues that Larsson himself railed against in society, such as endemic establishment corruption and the exploitation of women - Daily Mail.