By Chet Yarbrough
By Stieg Larrson
Because of attention fatigue or distraction, some books can be read at night; others in the morning; a few can be read any time. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played with Fire” are “any time” reads because they are well written. They draw readers into a world of mayhem, murder, and mystery that annihilates reader fatigue or distraction.
Traveling several times a year, whenever reading something popular, fellow passengers often ask what you think of the book you are reading. Stieg Larrson’s trilogy falls into that category.
“The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” introduces one of the great heroines of the 21st century, Lisbeth Salander. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” gives background that explains why, and how Lisbeth Salander became the supernatural symbol of women’s rights and empowerment.
In broad outline, “…Played with Fire” assembles the same primary characters of “… Dragon Tattoo” but the mystery of moment becomes the murder of a freelance reporter for the “Millenium” magazine and his doctoral candidate wife that is writing on the same subject as her husband. “Millennium” is partly owned by Larrson’s character, the intuitively brilliant investigative reporter, Blomkvist. The freelance writers are investigating sex trafficking in Sweden.
Salander, through a series of coincidences and techie-stooping forays into the world-wide-web, becomes involved in the freelancers’ murders. If the reader has seen the movie or read “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo”, they know Blomkvist and Salander are estranged and not communicating at the end of the first book. Because Salander is pursued by the police as a suspected psychotic murderer of the freelance writers, Blomkvist dogmatically pursues re-connection with Salander to establish her innocence; in the process, the reader learns who Lisbeth Salander is and why she became the independent judge and jury of sexual predators that abuse women.
Salander’s photographic memory, non-communicative mien, disgust with the psychiatric community, and extraordinary fighting prowess are given origin in “The Girl Who Played with Fire”. New villains are introduced in Larrson’s second book, i.e. one is an old disfigured Russian spy and the other is a muscled blond super-villain.
Stieg Larrson creates an ending in “The Girl Who Played with Fire” that compels a reader to covet “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”, the final book of the trilogy.
It is sad to think that Lisbeth Salander will not be returning after “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” because of Larrson’s death on November 9th, 2004 at age 50. This trilogy is an excellent crime fiction thriller with a female heroine that rivals all fictional male vigilantes.