Synopses & Reviews
Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium,
has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.
But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander — the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.
As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander's innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself 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.
"Fans of intelligent page-turners will be more than satisfied by Larsson's second thriller, even though it falls short of the high standard set by its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and punk hacker savant Lisbeth Salander. A few weeks before Dag Svensson, a freelance journalist, plans to publish a story that exposes important people involved in Sweden's sex trafficking business based on research conducted by his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, a criminologist and gender studies scholar, the couple are shot to death in their Stockholm apartment. Salander, who has a history of violent tendencies, becomes the prime suspect after the police find her fingerprints on the murder weapon. While Blomkvist strives to clear Salander of the crime, some far-fetched twists help ensure her survival. Powerful prose and intriguing lead characters will carry most readers along." Publishers Weekly (Copyright © Reed Business Information, Inc. All rights reserved.P
“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.” Scotland on Sunday
“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 examination of the way a supposedly open-minded country like Sweden treats its vulnerable women and children.” The Observer
“This second novel is even more gripping and astonishing than the first. What makes it outstanding is the author’s ability to handle dozens of characters and parallel narratives without losing tension. Larsson was a fantastic storyteller. This novel will leave readers on the edge of their seats.” Sunday Times (London)
“A dynamite thriller.” Variety
“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.” People
“Another gripping, stay-up-all-night read.” Entertainment Weekly
“Will likely confirm Larsson’s position as the most successful crime novelist in the world.” Slate
"It's refreshing to read crime fiction that burns with such blue-flame intensity in which every word counts. There is passion here...but Larsson never allow Fire to boomerang out of control." San Antonio Express-News
"If the thriller part of Larsson's exceptional novel is the icing, more profound elements are the philosophical cake. On the deepest level, this is about the evil [that] men and the rare woman...do." Chicago Sun-Times
“Boasts an intricate, puzzle-like story line... even as it accelerates toward its startling and violent conclusion.” New York Times
“Gripping stuff.... A nail-biting tale of murder and cover-ups.” People
“You might as well give up on the idea of sleep till you’ve finished the book.” Dallas Morning News
“Buzzes with ideas [and] fizzes with fury.” Los Angeles Times
“Lisbeth Salander could be the female Jason Bourne... It’s an intelligent, fascinating story that draws readers in, and keeps them turning the page.” Associated Press
Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing exposé on social injustice, The Girl Who Played with Fire
is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel.
Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.
About the Author
Stieg Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor in chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on antidemocratic, right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Reading Group Guide
“Boasts an intricate, puzzlelike story line . . . even as it accelerates toward its startling and violent conclusion.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enhance your reading group's discussion of The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson's propulsive follow-up to his bestselling debut, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
1. Have you read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
? How did your knowledge—or lack of knowledge—about that novel affect your reading of this one?
2. Discuss the prologue. What did you think was going on? At what point did you fully understand it?
3. On page 31-32, Larsson writes, “Within mathematics, assertions must always be proven mathematically and expressed in a valid and scientifically correct formula.” What does this have to do with the plot of the novel? Why is Salander so intrigued by mathematics?
4. Outwardly, Salander is supremely self-assured. Why does she have breast augmentation surgery?
5. Ultimately, does Salander's agreement with Nils Erik Bjurman pay off? In what ways?
6. Revenge is a major theme of the novel. Who seeks it, and what are the results?
7. Discuss gender politics as they affect the plot: the treatment of Salander, Erika Berger, Miriam Wu, Sonja Modig, and the trafficking of Eastern European women. What do you think Larsson was trying to say about the role of women in society?
8. On page 150, Berger thinks about Blomkvist: “He was a man with such shifting traits that he sometimes appeared to have multiple personalities.” Given that the reader is allowed inside Blomkvist's head, does this seem like an accurate description to you? How is Berger right in her assessment, and how is she wrong?
9. Twice in the novel, Salander and Blomkvist refer to his assertion that “friendship is built on two things—respect and trust.” Who is a true friend to Salander? Is she a true friend to anyone? What about Blomkvist? Is he a good friend to Salander, to Berger, and to others?
10. Discuss the arrangement agreed to by Berger, Blomkvist, and Gregor Beckman. How does this benefit each of them? Does it hurt them?
11. When Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson were murdered, what was your first response? Who did you think was the killer? Who did you think was Bjurman's killer?
12. Why does Blomkvist give Salander the benefit of the doubt, when so many others don't?
13. When newspaper articles begin to appear featuring interviews with long-ago acquaintances of Salander, did it change your perception of her character? Discuss the nature of truth in these instances: is it possible both sides were remembering accurately?
14. Discuss Dr. Peter Teleborian. What role does he play, and why?
15. Why does Berger put off telling Blomkvist about her new job? What will the ramifications of the new job be?
16. On page 462, Salander thinks, “There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility.” What is the significance of this statement? How does Salander use this notion to guide her actions?
17. On page 667, Blomkvist calls Salander “the woman who hated men who hate women.” Is this an accurate assessment? How did she end up this way? How does it affect her behavior?
18. In what ways is Salander like her father and half brother? In what ways is she different?
19. Toward the end of the novel, does Blomkvist do the right thing by having Berger deliver only part of the story to Jan Bublanski and Modig? What do you think he should have done?
20. Holger Palmgren tells Dragan Armansky on page 705, “What happens tonight will happen, no matter what you or I think. It's been written in the stars since [Salander] was born.” Why does he feel this way? Is he right? How does his inaction affect the outcome of the story?
21. Discuss the ending. Were you satisfied? What more, if anything, would you like to have had happen?
22. If Stieg Larsson were still alive, what one question would you most like to ask him?
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