Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

If all the paragraphs in this 700 plus page book that dealt with making, going for, or drinking coffee were eliminated then it would be about one hundred pages shorter.  Also, the author, Stieg Larsson, might have removed several of the detectives from the story as many were peripheral at best (superfluous at worst) and I was derailed occasionally by the sheer number of Swedish surnames necessary to recall.  To make matters more complicated the author varies when referring to the sleuths by their first or last names and, to boot, gives two of the more prominent detectives, nicknames.

That written, The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second of the Lisbeth Salander trilogy, is a genuine page turner and more so than its more well known predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I had read about half of Fire intermittently while travelling last weekend. When I returned yesterday and still on vacation, I began reading the rest and did not get up from my chair on the deck until I completed it. I like to read but I raced through about three hundred pages yesterday.  It is indicative of the allure of the story that  this morning I went to the library to get the final novel of the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I have not read much about Larsson, but it is clear certainly from this second book that he is a champion of women's rights and the need for society to be more sensitive to how women are mistreated by their mates and alleged guardians.  Fire is a powerful story in this way. It might be a bit offputting to some that many of the men on both sides of the law are bad guys, and none of the women characters have serious moral flaws. Yet I found the book to be powerful and likely empowering to any group that has been subjugated by cultural tolerance for reprehensible behavior.

This is not great literature and as I have written above, it was almost comical towards the end how every scene had to involve some reference to getting coffee.   But it will keep you sitting in your chair. A good book to take to the beach.  Bring the sunscreen.

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