terça-feira, 7 de agosto de 2012

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Stieg Larson's second book - the sequel of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". In this book the characters remain the same but the story differs largely from the first book. "The Girl Who Played with Fire" expounds of Lisbeth Salander's personal life begining with her childhood, teenage years and at last the mess she is caught with in her lap as the police charge her with the murder of three people. Much to her luck her friend Mikael Blomkvist comes to her aid by believing she is innocent and off he goes into a wild hunt to find out who the real murders are. The story unravels as you go reading page by page and it all becomes a big twist of large events which culmintate at the end of the book. The thing is that as you reach the last page you discover that the story doesn't end and you are just as curious to know how the whole thing will unfold as when you first started - and so you are forced to run to the bookstore and buy the last book of the series called "The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest" and from there you once again enter into the whole adventure head on, the only difference is that this time you know you'll find out the end no matter what!


The Girl Who Played with Fire (SwedishFlickan som lekte med elden) is the second novel in the best-selling "Millennium series" bySwedish 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 hacker and social misfit, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and publisher of Millenniummagazine.
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.[1]


The novel is formally divided into a prologue followed by four parts. The prologue of the book opens with a girl captured and restrained inside a dark room by an unidentified male. To cope with being captured, she mentally replays a past episode when she threw a milk carton filled with gasoline onto another man inside a car and tossed an ignited match onto him.

[edit]Part 1 – Irregular Equations

Lisbeth Salander, after finishing the job on the Wennerström affair (described in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), disappeared from Sweden and traveled throughout Europe. The novel opens with Salander at the shores of the Caribbean in St. George's, the capital of Grenada. She has become interested in Fermat's Last Theorem and mathematics, an interest that resounds with the opening page of each Part in this novel. From within her room in her hotel she observes on several occasions that her neighbor, Dr. Forbes, an American tourist from Texas, physically abuses his wife next door to her room. She also befriends George Bland, an introverted sixteen year old student living in a small shack, and she begins tutoring him in mathematics. Salander finds Bland's company relaxing and enjoyable because Bland does not ask her personal questions, and the two develop a sexual relationship.
Lisbeth Salander uses her connections among the hackers' network to investigate Dr. Forbes and learns that Reverend Robert Forbes was once accused of mishandling of funds in his faith-based foundation. Currently he has no assets, but his wife is the heir of a fortune worth $40 million. Due to concerns for safety, the residents at the hotel begin to enter the hotel cellar as a hurricane hits Grenada. Salander remembers Bland and braves the strong wind and rain to collect him. As the two reach the hotel entrance, Salander sees Dr. Forbes on the beach with his wife and realizes that he is attempting to kill her for her inheritance. Salander attacks Dr. Forbes with the leg of a chair, and abandons him to the elements. Salander, Bland and Mrs. Forbes retreat to the cellar and receive medical care; Dr. Forbes is later confirmed to have died during the night.

[edit]Part 2 – From Russia with Love

The second part opens with Lisbeth Salander returning to Stockholm. Immediately before the Wennerström affair became public knowledge, Salander laundered a sum of three billion kronor into a disguised bank account. With this sum she purchases a new up-scale apartment outside of Mosebacke Torg and moves out of her old apartment in Lundagatan. Salander allows a former sex partner, Miriam Wu, to move into her old apartment, for the price of 1 krona and the condition that Wu forward all of Salander's mail.
Nils Bjurman, Salander's legal guardian, continues to brew a growing hatred for his ward after the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. His fury has caused him to diminish his practice down to a single client (Salander) and focus his attention on capturing her and destroying the CDs. He scrutinizes Salander's medical records, identifies an incident named "All the Evil" as well as a person from her past as his strongest ally.
In the meantime, Mikael Blomkvist, the publisher of Millennium magazine, has lost all contact with Salander for over a year, as she has refused to even open his letters. He is approached by Dag Svensson, a young journalist who is partners with Mia Johanssen, a doctorate candidate. They have together written a meticulously-researched expose aboutsex trafficking in Sweden and the abuse of underage girls by high-ranking figures, which will be her doctorate thesis and which Svensson now wants Millennium to publish as an expose. Salander hacks into Mikael Blomkvist's computer and learns of the publication, becoming intrigued by the name "Zala" and visiting Svennson and Johanssen to ask questions. Shortly thereafter, Blomkvist, who had been invited to visit the couple on unrelated business, finds them both shot dead in their Stockholm apartment. Salander's fingerprints are on the murder weapon.

[edit]Part 3 – Absurd Equations

Blomkvist notifies Erika Berger, the editor in chief of Millennium and his occasional lover, of the double murders. The next morning, the magazine office holds an emergency meeting to work out the logistics of postponing the publication of Svensson's book and the associated magazine special. The staff decides to backtrack Svensson's research to ensure the accuracy of the material, and to comb through it for possible murder motives, while Blomkvist is tasked with finishing Svensson's mostly-completed book.
Prosecutor Richard Ekström assembles an investigation team, led by Inspector Jan Bublanski, who demands that Sonja Modig be included in the team. The team identifies Salander's fingerprints on the murder weapon. They find Salander's formal record which establishes her as a violent, unstable, psychotic woman with a history of prostitution, and is currently linked to Dragan Armansky at Milton Security and Bjurman. The stark contrast between Armansky's trust in Salander's high intelligence and her official records surprises Bublanski. Bublanski then visits Blomkvist and Berger, who are puzzled by Salander's psychiatric history and her involvement with the murders, but Blomkvist also insists that she has no cognitive or moral deficits. While investigating her social circle, Modig finds Bjurman shot dead in his apartment, with Salander being the prime suspect. In the light of this new data, Ekström holds a press conference and discloses Salander's name and psychiatric history to the press.
Blomkvist enlists the help of managing editor Eriksson to investigate the murders, during which he realizes that Salander has hacked into his notebook computer. He reaches out to her through his computer, and she points him to "Zala". He confronts Gunnar Björck, a policeman on sick leave and one of the johns identified by Dag and Mia, who agrees to disclose information about Zala if Blomkvist agrees to leave him out of Svensson's book.
On the other hand, Milton Security becomes involved in the investigation as Armansky decides to send Hedström and Bohman from Milton Security to aid the formal police investigation. Miriam Wu returns from a Paris trip to find herself taken to the police station and confirms Salander's intelligence and moral character. However, Hedström leaks Wu's identity into the press, and the press publishes extensively about Wu's ownership of a Gay Pride Festival. The press also publishes about Salander's past from childhood to 11, and from 14 onward. Part 3 closes with Salander noting that the source who has been leaking information to the press specifically suppressed information about a key event in her history she calls "All the Evil".

[edit]Part 4 – Terminator Mode

Blomkvist is approached by Paolo Roberto, a boxing champion and Salander's former training master. Blomkvist suggests Roberto seek out Miriam Wu for conversation, as she has been avoiding all press, including Mikael himself. In the meantime, on Salander's suggestion Blomkvist focuses onto Zala as the key connection between the three murders and sex trafficking. As the police continue the investigation, Blomkvist's team also notices the three-year gap in Salander's biography. Blomkvist decides to confront Björck and trade his anonymity for information on Zala.
Roberto, staking out Salander's former apartment in the hopes of catching Wu, witnesses her kidnapped into a van by a paunchy man with a ponytail and a blond giant. He follows the van out to a warehouse south of Nykvarn, where he attempts to rescue Wu by boxing with the blonde giant. He finds his opponent unusually muscular and insensitive to pain, is able to stun the giant but is overcome by the giant's brute strength. Wu stuns the giant by kicking him in the groin and Roberto knocks him out by hitting him with a plank, allowing them to escape together. The blond giant recovers and sets the warehouse on fire to remove all evidence. However, Roberto is able to direct the police to the site, where they find a number of buried and dismembered bodies there; apparently the blond giant has used the warehouse to dispose of troublesome types before.
Visiting Bjurman's summer cabin, Salander finds the missing set of her information and begins to make the connection between Bjurman and Zala. According to the information, Zala's real name is Alexander Zalachenko. She defeats two members of Svavelsjö MC, a known motorcycle gang, including the paunchy ponytail man, leaving more suspects for Bublanski to find. She returns to her apartment and decides to find Zalachenko and kill him. Salander learns of the blond giant's identity ("Ronald Niedermann") and his connection to a post office box in Göteborg and goes there to find him and Zalachenko.
After she leaves, Blomkvist finds Salander's old keys, which he picked up when she was first assaulted. He manages to find her new, up-scale apartment as well as Bjurman's DVD. Between Björck and Salander's former guardian, Holder Palmgren, Blomvkist is able to piece together the entire story: Zalachenko was a Russian defector under secret Swedish protection, whose very existence is kept classified by the Swedish Security Service (Säpo); Bjurman and Björck only knew about him because they happened to be the junior officers on duty the day he marched into a police office and demanded political asylum. Zalachenko later began to traffic sex slaves, whilst simultaneously settling down with an 18-year-old girl who became pregnant with twins, one named Camilla and the other Lisbeth. He was physically and emotionally abusive to his partner, and while Camilla tended to repress all knowledge of the situation, Lisbeth attempted to defend her mother. One day, after he had beaten her into unconsciousness, Salander deliberately set his car alight with gasoline while he was in it. This is the event Salander refers to as "All the Evil," as the authorities, instead of listening to her pleas on behalf of her mother, imprisoned her and declared her insane. Salander's mother was left with the first of a series of brain aneurysms, culminating in her death at the beginning of Dragon Tattoo. Salander learned never to trust authorities. Zalachenko was allowed to walk away, as admitting his culpability would require admitting his existence, which the Swedish government were not prepared to do; however, he suffered serious injuries and had to have his foot amputated. Svenssen and Johanssen were killed by Niedermann, attempting to cover his employer's tracks; when Salander visited them, she asked whether they had any information on Bjurman as a potential john, and they called him immediately after she left; Bjurman then called Zalachenko in a panic, leading not only to their deaths but his own.
Blomkvist does not share all of his findings with Bublanski, in respect for Salander's privacy, but between his testimony, that of Palmgren and Armansky on her character, and the additional accomplices piling up, the police are forced to admit that their original estimation, of Salander as a psychotic murderer, is contradicted by the evidence. Milton Security are ejected from the investigation when it becomes clear that Hedstrom is the inside source who has been leaking sensational details to the press; however, Armansky is satisfied, as his true goal in aiding the investigation—ensuring Salander is not simply condemned as a murderer out of hand—has been achieved. Finally, Blomkvist finds the same Göteborg address that Salander did, and sets off for the farm where Niedermann and Zalachenko await. He has deduced that Salander has entered what Roberto and his boxing friends called "Terminator Mode," where she simply attacks without restraint in fear for her life and those she cares about.
Salander gets there first and is captured due to the motion detectors and cameras Zalachenko had installed. He tells Salander that Niedermann is her half-brother. When Salander attempts to escape, Zalachenko shoots her in the hip, shoulder and head, and Niedermann buries her corpse. Salander is still alive, digs herself out and again attempts to kill Zalachenko with an axe, noting that Zalachenko's use of a Browning .22 firearm is the only reason she survived. On his way to Göteborg, Blomkvist sees Niedermann trying to catch a ride with him. He catches Niedermann by surprise and captures him, tying him against a signpost by the road. The book ends as Blomkvist finds Salander and calls emergency services.


[edit]Main characters

  • Mikael Blomkvist – A journalist and publisher at Millennium magazine
  • Lisbeth Salander – An asocial 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

[edit]Related to Millennium magazine

  • Erika Berger – Editor in chief of Millennium magazine and Blomkvist's on–off lover
  • Harriet Vanger – Majority investor
  • Malin Eriksson – Managing editor of Millennium magazine
  • Christer Malm – Art director and designer of Millennium magazine
  • Dag Svensson – A journalist who is writing an exposé on the Swedish sex trade
  • Mia Johansson – Dag's girlfriend and doctoral student
  • Henry Cortez – Part-time journalist at Millennium magazine
  • Lotta Karim – Part-time journalist at Millennium
  • Monika Nillson – Journalist at Millennium magazine

[edit]Related to Milton Security

  • Dragan Armansky – Salander's former boss and director of Milton Security
  • Sonny Bohman – A former policeman and part of the team Armansky assigns to support the police investigation
  • Johan Fräklund – Chief of Operations at Milton Security and assigned to support police investigation
  • Niklas Hedström – Works for Milton Security and is assigned to support police investigation but sabotages it. A heart problem kept him from becoming a police man. He hates Salander since she caught him blackmailing a client

[edit]Related to police investigation

  • Jan Bublanski – A police officer who is in charge of Salander's case, nicknamed Officer Bubble
  • Sonja Modig – A detective in Bublanski's team
  • Richard Ekström – A prosecutor of Salander's case
  • Hans Faste – Working in Bublanski's team, causing trouble with his sexually discriminating attitude
  • Curt Andersson – Police officer in Bublanski's team
  • Jerker Holmberg – Police officer in Bublanski's team

[edit]Other characters

  • Annika Gianinni – Blomkvist's sister and an attorney
  • Miriam "Mimmi" Wu – A kickboxer, university student and Salander's sometime lover
  • Nils Bjurman – An attorney and Salander's current guardian since Palmgren's stroke
  • Paolo Roberto – A former professional boxer and Salander's boxing instructor. The character is based on the real boxer Paolo Roberto.
  • Gunnar Björck – A Swedish Security Police officer and former punter abusing women. He is also the lead source for Blomkvist on Zalachenko.
  • Holger Palmgren – Lisbeth Salander's former guardian; she visits him in a rehabilitation home and they play a game of chess together. In her memoir "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and MeEva Gabrielsson tells readers that this chess game was inspired by her brother Björn who Stieg Larsson used to play the game with and with whom he was very close.[2]
  • Greger Beckman – Erika Berger's husband
  • George Bland – Teenage boy whom Salander has an affair with in Grenada
  • Richard Forbes – Reverend and Salander's hotel room neighbour in Grenada
  • Geraldine Forbes – Battered wife of Richard Forbes
  • Sonny Nieminen – Part of Svavelsjö MC and involved in trying to kidnap Salander


The English version was published in January 2009 and immediately became a number 1 bestseller.[1] It received reviews from most of the major UK newspapers. Many reviewers agreed with Joan Smith at the Sunday Times that this novel was “even more gripping and astonishing than the first”. Carla McKay at the Daily Mail said that, like its predecessor, the book is "not just a thrilling read, but tackles head-on the kind of issues that Larsson himself railed against in society".[3]
Most of the reviewers concentrated mainly on the character of Lisbeth Salander, with Mark Lawson at the Guardian saying that "the huge pleasure of these books is Salander, a fascinating creation with a complete and complex psychology."[4] Boyd Tonkin in The Independent saying that "the spiky and sassy Lisbeth Salander – punkish wild child, traumatised survivor of the 'care' system, sexual adventurer and computer hacker of genius" was "the most original heroine to emerge in crime fiction for many years".[5]

[edit]Cultural notes

The character of Paolo Roberto is an actual person. He is a former boxer and television chef who has also dabbled in politics. He played himself in the film based on the book.[6][7]
In the first part of the book, Salander is exploring Dimensions in Mathematics apparently written by L. C. Parnault and published by Harvard University Press in 1999. On February 9, 2009, Harvard University Press announced on their website that this book, as well as the author, is purely fictitious.[8]
The mysterious Karl Axel Bodin, in whose house Salander finds Zalachenko and Niedermann, is a historical name. Bodin was born in Karlstad and later moved to Sundsvall. He went to Norway to join the Waffen-SS; at the end of World War II, he was attached to the country's branch of the Gestapo. At the war's end, Bodin and another Swedish volunteer stole a car in an attempted escape to Sweden. The car's owner saw the theft, and soon a gunfight erupted in which the car owner and Bodin's friend were shot. Bodin left his friend behind and crossed the border.[9]

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