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The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson I started reading this book with a bit of trepidation. While I enjoyed the first book, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", I found it hard to read, at times, because the content was often very violent and sadistic. This book certainly does not disappoint in those areas; once again the theme is raw with horrific events. Whew, is all I can say about the opening prologue. If that doesn't suck you into the book to find out what is going to happen, nothing will.
Two hundred pages into the book, I was still on the edge of my seat, expecting some awful event to suddenly occur, but a little disappointed. wondering if it would and, sometimes, wondering why there was so much extraneous detail. I wasn't sure why it was significant to include what Lisbeth ate for breakfast or dinner.
Two hundred and fifty pages into the 600+ page tome, the plot finally developed, the story began to take shape and it drew me in so that I wanted to actually read it, and was no longer reading it just because I had to, for my book group. It had become a page turner for me and I was wishing the pages away as quickly as possible so I could get to the point where I would find out what happened in the end. There has been a multiple murder scenario and there are so many mysteries surrounding it that my interest is fever pitched.
Three hundred pages in and I am now totally captured and completely mesmerized. The plot twists and turns so much and there is so much misdirection that I don’t know what to believe. One minute I am thinking that I understand what is going on and the next I am more in the dark than ever, about the plot. Nothing is what it seems to be. I keep theorizing about the murders only to find out that I am going in the completely wrong direction. Also, I am still reading about what Lisbeth eats and buys in a variety of markets but I am not so annoyed about it. Blomkvist and Lisbeth are a dyamic duo even when they are not together.
Four hundred pages in and I am still wondering why were the victims murdered? Who were their murderers? What common thread joins all of these characters together? Does it seem contrived or is it possible? All these questions, all of these conflicting thoughts bat around my head together like balls in a lotto machine. They seem random and I can only keep on reading and hope to find out, in the end, how they are connected, who is guilty and who is innocent? This writer knows how to keep the reader interested and how to intricately weave many different themes together into one tapestry!
Five hundred pages in and the characters have become even more bizarre and misogynistic even as they become more credible. They are jumping off the page and inviting further scrutiny, although as a reader, I am almost as afraid as the investigators, to discover the motives behind all of the horrific events which seem related and yet, not totally. I turn each page expecting to read about yet another dreadful, brutal occurrence. There seem to be conflicting theories about the murder mystery, each of which opens another hidden door which makes no sense. There are corrupt policemen, corrupt judges, lawyers, doctors and corrupt journalists. As a matter of fact, corruption abounds everywhere. There were few people who didn't rush to judgment about Lisbeth's guilt. Circumstantial evidence builds a very good case against her. There are so many revelations around every corner that confound the reader who is trying to figure out where this story goes. What a gift it is for an author to keep his reader guessing and interested for almost the entire book without filling in any of the blanks!
I have about fifty pages to go and I don't want it to end. The anticipation that the author has created is exquisite. I know that this is only book two of what was supposed to be five. Does that mean that when this ends in a cliffhanger, I will really never put all the loose ends together, even if I read the next one? I am beginning to find that demoralizing! My curiosity is getting the better of me. The world is really going to miss this author because he has the gift of making the written word live on every page. As convoluted as the plot becomes, it always retains a bit of plausibility which made me keep on turning the pages and hoping for more.
Lisbeth's life has been a disaster. Will all of the secrets be revealed? Will Blomkvist and many of her unusual friends, from all walks of life, who don't believe she is capable of murder, succeed in the quest to prove her innocence? Will she still need a guardian? Will she disappear again? Will she survive? Is her violent streak and behavior justified?
Because it took me so long to really get into and have a vested interest in reading this book, I only gave it four stars but I can pretty safely say that I don’t think you will be sorry or disappointed if you have the patience to wade through the first couple of hundred pages until you are also inexorably drawn in for the entire journey. It was a wonderful read.