Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish: Flickan som lekte med elden) is the second novel in the best-selling “Millennium series” by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. It was published posthumously in Swedish in 2006 and in English in January 2009.
The book features many of the characters that appeared in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, among them the title character, Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant computer hackerand social misfit, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and publisher of Millennium magazine.
Widely seen as a critical success, The Girl Who Played with Fire was also (according to The Bookseller magazine) the first and only translated novel to be number one in the UK hardback chart.
Mikael Blomkvist, the publisher of Millennium magazine, is approached by Dag Svensson, a young journalist who has written a meticulously researched thesis about sex trafficking in Sweden and the abuse of underage girls by high-ranking figures. Blomkvist immediately throws himself into the investigation, planning to run Svensson’s story in an upcoming issue of Millennium. However, shortly before the printing of the story, Svensson and his partner are shot dead in their Stockholm apartment.
Lisbeth Salander becomes the prime suspect in Svensson’s murder when the police discover incriminating evidence at the crime scene. The next day, Salander’s guardian, Nils Bjurman, is found dead in his bedroom, shot with the same weapon. Lisbeth discovers a connection between Bjurman and a man named Zala, and breaks into Bjurman’s home to read his files on her. She realizes that none of the police reports state the reason for her institutionalization when she was thirteen. She tells Blomvkist that she is innocent and gives him information on the case.
Blomkvist tries to clear Lisbeth’s name, but is unable to find her. Lisbeth has moved out of her old apartment — given to her friend and sometime-lover, Mimmi — and into a secret apartment so that no one could locate her. Niedermann, a looming henchman working for Zala, shows up at the old apartment and abducts Mimmi in an attempt to force Lisbeth out of hiding. Niederman takes Mimmi to a secret warehouse that serves as his lair, but Mimmi escapes and is taken to the hospital.
We find out later that Zala is Lisbeth’s father, and she had tried to kill him when she was 13 with fire because he abused her mother so badly she was put in a mental hospital. Lisbeth locates Zala and shows up at his home to kill him, but Niedermann is there and she is told he is her half-brother. Zala shoots Lisbeth in the hip, shoulder and head with a Browning .22, which is a very weak gun that doesn’t kill her. Niedermann buries her alive, but she digs herself out and again attempts to kill Zala with an axe. Blomvkist, who had done extensive research, along with Lisbeth’s computer hacking skills, arrives in time to attend to Lisbeth and call 911. It’s revealed the Niedermann was the killer of Bjurman, Svensson and Svensson’s partner, and a search is put out for him since he fled the scene once Lisbeth tried to murder Zala with the axe.
- Mikael Blomkvist – A journalist and publisher at Millennium magazine.
- Lisbeth Salander – An antisocial private investigator, hacker, and accused triple-murderer.
- Alexander Zalachenko (Zala) a.k.a. Karl Axel Bodin – A former Soviet spy who turns out to be deeply involved in Salander’s dark past.
- Ronald Niedermann a.k.a. The Giant – Zalachenko’s henchman who is connected to Salander in way which she herself does not realize.
- Carl-Magnus Lundin – The President of Svavelsjö Motorcycle Club (Svavelsjö MC). Sells drugs and is commissioned to kidnap Salander for Zala.