When I read the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (see my review here), I finished it in a two-and-a-half-day marathon. I beat my own record when I swallowed Fire in 34 hours minus 6.5 hours for sleep.
The books’ heroine, Lisbeth Salander, might appreciate these details since she’s some kind of mathematical savant who enjoys working with numbers. But that’s only one of her talents. She’s also a genius computer hacker, boxer, and master of disguise, a skill which, in this latest adventure, helps her elude a massive police manhunt after she becomes the prime suspect in a triple murder. The only person who believes in her innocence is Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist from Tattoo whom she helped crack a case. He comes to her aid this time by hunting down clues which might lead to the real killer(s).
As the investigation progresses, details from Salander’s past slowly come to light, specifically about incidents she calls “All the Evil.” I was already captivated by her in the first book though she was maddeningly opaque at times, behaving in ways I couldn’t understand. After much of her attitude and unique code of ethics are explained in this book, I’m more deeply drawn to her, though pity is not amongst the emotions I feel since Salander would never want that from anyone.
As with Tattoo, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here. This book is a thriller, police procedural, exposé on sex trafficking, and psychological study. The exploration of Salander’s psyche makes Fire an even more compelling book than Tattoo, The Empire Strikes Back to Tattoo’s Star Wars in more ways than one. Unlike Star Wars, though, the bad guys in Larsson’s books tend to be one-note evil (even Vader was cool to Luke in the end). I’m talking super nasty, the most depraved bastards you could possibly imagine with no recognizable human traits. Then again, that makes it much more fun and satisfying when they have to face Salander’s wrath. This girl doesn’t just play with it; she’s on fire.
Nerd verdict: Raging hot Fire
Want a copy of this book plus some dragon tattoos? Enter my giveaway here.