The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy Series #2)

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy Series #2) - Stieg Larsson definitely wanted to tackle social issues with his trilogy -- to expose injustices and corruption... and in this book, to lambast the frenzy so easily caused by the media. While his base is Sweden, it's easy to see that these issues are global. Just look at today's headlines and the "hot" stories in the tabloids, both print and media.But Larsson doesn't just show us the "bad" guys, he shows us that there are both bad and good everywhere: in government, the prosecutor's office, the police and detectives, journalists, and the public sectorLisbeth Salander is the means by which Larsson tells his story. It seems almost unreal that Salander is the impetus behind much of the goings on in this book. What begins as an expose from both a journalist and a doctoral university candidate on the sex trade in Sweden and how it's virtually ignored turns into a much deeper story involving Lisbeth and "All The Evil". Larsson reveals to us in this second book what "All The Evil" is and what happened to Salander to make her who she is today.Along the way, we rub shoulders with a wide variety of characters, from virtually every walk of life: Sobe (my tae is that it's Sweden's version of the CIA or MI6), the police force, the Swedish version of "Hells Angels", Nils Bjurman (Salander's current "guardian"), Dr. Teleborian (psychiatrist responsible for having Salander committed to a children's insane ward and for official records that she's mentally unstable and retarded), Evil Fingers (the girl band that Salander occasionally hung out with), "Mimmi" Miriam Wu (off-and-on lover of Salander's), a famous Swedish boxer, Blomqvist's sister Anna Giannini, Dragan Armanksy and his private security firm & employees, Palmgren (Salander's previous guardian, before he had a stroke), and of course the cast of Millenium magazine - especially Blomqvist & Berger.We start with Salander in Grenada, and we learn that she's been sight-seeing around the world for the past year on money she managed to "lift" from Wernerstrom's account before giving Blomqvist the necessary research to nail him to the wall. Salander weathers a hurricane and a dicey situation with a couple from Texas.Bjurman is just recovering from 2 years worth of nightmares from when Salander blackmailed him. And he's out for revenge. So he starts uncovering everything he can about her past... and finds the one person from her past who he (Bjurman) knows can help him revenge himself once and for all on Salander. Bjurman doesn't just want her soul, he wants to destroy Salander.Blomqvist is in Sweden, unaware that Salander is traveling, but very aware that she obviously wants nothing to do with him anymore, although why that should be he hasn't a clue. Blomqvist has a new freelancer, Svennson who has a piece on the sex trade in Sweden that he's going to sell to Millenium... AND allow them to publish in a book for him. Svennson's fiance, Mia Johansson, is up for her doctoral at the local university, and her thesis is the other side of Svennson's story. Between them, they name names, give details, and provide statistics; everything is thoroughly documented. And it will bring down a lot of grief and embarrassment, not only on the "johns", of whom many are in positions that should be upholding Sweden's sex trade laws not violating them, but also on the sex traders themselves. Only days away from publishing, Svennson and Jonansson are brutally murdered - one shot each. Blomqvist was on his way to pick up some material and discovers the bodies... and the discarded gun. The gun turns out to have Salander's prints on it - as well as a smashed coffee mug in Svennson and Johansson's apartment. And then, Bjurman is discovered murdered, naked & execution-style at the foot of his bed -- shot with the same gun, which happened to belong to him. Suddenly, Salander is the leading suspect. And as the detective team starts pulling info on Salander together, she's painted as the most sadistic, strange, sexually-deviant, amoral, dangerous, psychotic person imaginable. The media goes into a feeding frenzy. The prosecutor leaks info to the media that he believes will help him win a slam-dunk case against Salander, when she's caught. Armansky lends the detective team 2 of his own, with the idea that he (Armansky) wants to know what's going on to protect Salander as much as possible and make sure she gets a fair deal. Except that one of the guys he's loaned to the force has a grudge against Salander.As the detective team tries to make sense of the details of the case, all focus in on Salander. And yet, the lead detective is puzzled. The written reports show her to be mentally ill, retarded, and dangerous. The verbal reports he gets from Blomqvist, Mimmi, Armansky, and others who knew Salander (as well as she can be known) show Lisbeth Salander to be intelligent and capable, even if she does have her own version of morality -- hurt me, I hurt you. The only link between the 2 murder scenes seems to be Salander... until a connection is made between the sex trade scandal and a "john" retired from Sobe (the secret police) who knew and worked with Bjurman.And the name "Zala" or Zalachenko keeps coming up. But the man seems to be a ghost. Who is he and what has he to do with Lisbeth Salander? It's not an easy road, nor is it an easy read.My main "complaint" is that two of the bad guys share a similar name, and so I was very confused until the last chapters of the book. One guys is supposedly the "arm" of Zala, and the other guys is associated with the Swedish "Hells Angels" gang... except for the longest time, I thought they were one and the same. So when the text talks about the Hells Angels guy being in custody, but the police are looking for the monster, I just couldn't figure it out.Where we end up is, as in the 1st book, not quite what or where you'd expect. Twists upon twists... turns upon turns. And if truth is stranger than fiction, I hesitate to know if Larsson based any of this on reality. *shudder*If you read this book, you'll HAVE to read the 3rd book, which picks up exactly where this book ends.I'm having a tough time imagining this book as a movie, although I know that the Swedish version is already filmed and out. I expect that the U.S./U.K. version will be soon, too, since the 1st movie is expected to hit theatres Dec. 21st. But there is so much in this book that can't be shown... or can it? Guess we'll have to wait and see.