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The Girl Who Played with Fire

Cover of The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Millennium Trilogy, Book 2
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The electrifying follow-up to the phenomenal best seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ("An intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller" –The Washington Post), and this time it is Lisbeth Salander, the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker, who is the focus and fierce heart of the story.

Mikael Blomkvist—crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium—has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander.

Now, as Blomkvist—alone in his belief in her innocence—plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.


From the Hardcover edition.
The electrifying follow-up to the phenomenal best seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ("An intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller" –The Washington Post), and this time it is Lisbeth Salander, the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker, who is the focus and fierce heart of the story.

Mikael Blomkvist—crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium—has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander.

Now, as Blomkvist—alone in his belief in her innocence—plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.


From the Hardcover edition.
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    CHAPTER 1
    Thursday, December 16 -- Friday, December 17
    Lisbeth Salander pulled her sunglasses down to the tip of her nose and squinted from beneath the brim of her sun hat. She saw the woman from room 32 come out of the hotel side entrance and walk to one of the green-and-white-striped chaises-longues beside the pool. Her gaze was fixed on the ground and her progress seemed unsteady.

    Salander had only seen her at a distance. She reckoned the woman was around thirty-five, but she looked as though she could be anything from twenty-five to fifty. She had shoulder-length brown hair, an oval face, and a body that was straight out of a mail-order catalogue for lingerie. She had a black bikini, sandals, and purple-tinted sunglasses. She spoke with a southern American accent. She dropped a yellow sun hat next to the chaise-longue and signalled to the bartender at Ella Carmichael's bar.

    Salander put her book down on her lap and sipped her iced coffee before reaching for a pack of cigarettes. Without turning her head she shifted her gaze to the horizon. She could just see the Caribbean through a group of palm trees and the rhododendrons in front of the hotel. A yacht was on its way north towards St Lucia or Dominica. Further out, she could see the outline of a grey freighter heading south in the direction of Guyana. A breeze made the morning heat bearable, but she felt a drop of sweat trickling into her eyebrow. Salander did not care for sunbathing. She had spent her days as far as possible in shade, and even now was under the awning on the terrace. And yet she was as brown as a nut. She had on khaki shorts and a black top.

    She listened to the strange music from steel drums flowing out of the speakers at the bar. She could not tell the difference between Sven-Ingvars and Nick Cave, but steel drums fascinated her. It seemed hardly feasible that anyone could tune an oil barrel, and even less credible that the barrel could make music like nothing else in the world. She thought those sounds were like magic.

    She suddenly felt irritated and looked again at the woman, who had just been handed a glass of some orange-coloured drink.

    It was not Lisbeth Salander's problem, but she could not comprehend why the woman stayed. For four nights, ever since the couple had arrived, Salander had listened to the muted terror being played out in the room next door to hers. She had heard crying and low, excitable voices, and sometimes the unmistakable sound of slaps. The man responsible for the blows -- Salander assumed he was her husband -- had straight dark hair parted down the middle in an old-fashioned style, and he seemed to be in Grenada on business. What kind of business, Salander had no idea, but every morning the man had appeared with his briefcase, in a jacket and tie, and had coffee in the hotel bar before he went outside to look for a taxi.

    He would come back to the hotel in the late afternoon, when he took a swim and sat with his wife by the pool. They had dinner together in what on the surface seemed to be a quiet and loving way. The woman may have had a few too many drinks, but her intoxication was not noisome.

    Each night the commotion in the next-door room had started just as Salander was going to bed with a book about the mysteries of mathematics. It did not sound like a full-on assault. As far as Salander could tell through the wall, it was one repetitive, tedious argument. The night before, Salander had not been able to contain her curiosity. She had gone on to the balcony to listen through the couple's open balcony door. For more than an hour the man had paced back and forth in the room, going on about what a shit he was, that he...

Reviews-
  • Slate

    "The Girl Who Played with Fire will likely confirm Larsson's position as the most successful crime novelist in the world."

  • Los Angeles Times "Larsson has bottled lightning . . . Formally at least, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a muscle car. But a European engine purrs beneath its hood . . . It buzzes with ideas [and] fizzes with fury."
  • Liz Smith, Variety "A dynamite thriller."
  • Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle "These books grabbed me and kept me reading with eyes wide open with the same force as the best of the series on the TV monitor . . . Move over, Tony Soprano . . . Blomkvist is a wonderfully appealing character. And the girl of the title is one of the most fascinating characters in modern genre fiction."
  • People "A nail-biting tale of murder and cover-ups in which the victims are tantalizingly hard to distinguish from the villains. . . Believe the hype . . . It's gripping stuff."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Another gripping, stay-up-all-night read."
  • USA Today "Lisbeth Salander [is] one of the most startling, engaging heroines in recent memory . . . Some of the books' appeal comes from the Swedish setting, but most of it is a result of the author writing from the heart, not from a formula. Larsson clearly loved his brave misfit Lisbeth. And so will you."
  • Washington Post
    "
    "The Girl Who Played with Fire confirms the impression left by Dragon Tattoo. Here is a writer with two skills useful in entertaining readers royally: creating characters who are complex, believable, and appealing even when they act against their own best interest; and parceling out information in a consistently enthralling way."
  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Lisbeth Salander was one of the most original and memorable heroines to surface in a recent thriller: picture Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft endowed with Mr. Spock's intense braininess and Scarlett O'Hara's spunky instinct for survival . . . Now Salander is back in an even more central role . . . The reason it works is the same reason that Dragon Tattoo worked: Salander and Blomkvist transcend their genre and insinuate themselves in the reader's mind through their oddball individuality, their professional competence and, surprisingly, their emotional vulnerability."
  • Booklist (starred)
    "A suspenseful, remarkably moving novel . . . This is the best Scandinavian novel to be published in the U.S. since Smilla's Sense of Snow . . . Salander is one of those characters who come along only rarely in fiction: a complete original, larger than life yet firmly grounded in realistic detail, utterly independent yet at her core a wounded and frightened child . . . One of the most compelling characters to strut the crime-fiction stage in years."
  • Library Journal (starred) "This is complex and compelling storytelling at its best, propelled by one of the most fascinating characters in recent crime fiction."
  • Publishers Weekly "Fans of intelligent page-turners will be more than satisfied by Larsson's second thriller . . . [It has] powerful prose and intriguing lead characters."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Fans of postmodern mystery will revel in Larsson's latest . . . also starring journo extraordinaire Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, the Lara Croft of the land of the midnight sun . . . Lisbeth is really a Baltic MacGyver with a highly developed sense of outrage, a sociopathic bent and brand-new breast implants, to say nothing of a well-stuffed bankbook."
  • The Times Literary Supplement "As good as crime writing gets . . . Completely absorbing and engaging on both a narrative and a moral level . . . Lisbeth Salander [is] a remarkable heroine."
  • The Guardian "The huge pleasure of these books is Salander, a fascinating creation with a complete and complex psychology . . . Salander is recognisably a Lara Croft for grown-ups--a female Terminator."
  • Scotland on Sunday "Addictive . . . We are in the hands of a master . . . Salander and Blomkvist [are] the finest and strangest partnership in crime fiction since Holmes and Watson . . . Stunningly memorable."
  • The Observer "The Girl Who Played with Fire is that rare thing--a sequel that is even better than the book that went before . . . A combination of urgent, multilayered thriller, traditional police procedural and articulate exami
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Millennium Trilogy, Book 2
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Stieg Larsson
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