The Millennium Trilogy: Part Two
Book Title: The Girl Who Played With Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson (Reg Keeland translation)
Published: 2006 (translation 2009)
Category: fiction: general, fiction: crime
What Larsson did with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, he takes to a whole new level with The Girl Who Played With Fire. What starts with an unorthodox murder investigation in Millennium I turns into an investigation of an International sex trade ring, several more murders, and an intense police investigation – with some police working against others.
Once more we witness the pure awesomeness of Lisbeth Salander, and the fearlessness (or foolishness) of Mikael Blomkvist. We also delve into a host of background characters further than in the first novel. Characters that you don’t often see in North American literature; GLBTA characters, strong and career oriented women, people of all walks of life who are after the truth.
The element of the storytelling of this book that I really loved was the way that Larsson gets his readers to reach their own conclusions about the motivations of his characters.
When Lisbeth is in hiding from the police, we, the reader, don’t see the story from her point of view for nearly 200 pages, a sharp distinction from Larsson’s style thus far. Instead we follow Blomkvist in his internal struggle to decide whether Salander is innocent or guilty. Because we don’t see her side of the story for so long, we are forced, as readers, to draw our own conclusions, and come down on one side or the other, just as Blomkvist does.
Blomkvist, our erstwhile investigator, is a journalist of integrity, who values the truth over the story, and is often rewarded with incredible stories for following the truth, in this volume however, we see the other side of the media, in terms of the media firestorm, the libel, and slander of Lisbeth Salander.
“Don’t tell me Salander is some damned Satanist too,” Bublanski said. “The media are going to go nuts.”
“Lesbian Satanists,” Faste said helpfully.
“Hans, you’ve got a view of women from the Middle Ages,” Modig said. “Even I’ve heard of Evil Fingers.” (380)
We watch helplessly as Lisbeth, a marginalized figure, has her private life strewn about the media in a firestorm of accusations, generalizations, and stereotypes. They focus on her sexuality, her tattoos, her appearance and her differences from the norm of society’s neat little labels and boxes. We do however, get to see Larsson’s other characters strike back against the injustice that is occurring.
“I come home to find my door broken open and police tape across it, and a guy pumped up on steroids drags me down here. Can I get an explanation?”
“Don’t you like men?” Faste said.
Miriam Wu turned and stared at him, astonished. Bublanski gave him a furious look. (401)
I love the way that Larsson lets his readers see a different type of character than most of mainstream literature. Maybe it’s a product of the differences between Swedish and North American culture, his willingness to focus on the marginalized without making them helpless victims in the story’s plotlines. They fight back.
“Are you dykes?”
“Would you like a punch in the mouth?”
“Answer the question.”
“It’s none of your business what we are.”
“Take it easy. You can’t provoke me.”
“Hello? The police are claiming that Lisbeth murdered three people and you come here to ask me about my sexual preferences. You can go to hell.” (505)