I read and enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when it came out last year, although I felt that it was a bit heavy-handed at times. The Girl who Played with Fire is the second of the trilogy written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson before his untimely death. Fire, like the previous novel, features the characters of Lisbeth Salander (socially awkward hacker extraordinaire) and Mikael Blomkvist (investigative journalist and ladies' man). Larsson's characters are for the most part deeply flawed, and a refreshing number of them are women. This book, unlike the first, focuses on Salander's past and has as its main plot point her fugitive status after three mysterious killings shake Stockholm. As one of the victims is Salander's court-appointed guardian and her fingerprints are found at both crime scenes, she is naturally under suspicion from the outset. Blomkvist and the rest of the staff of Millennium magazine, the police department, and the security firm where Salander was once employed are all on the hunt for her, as well as a group of thugs that would rather she disappeared for good. I can't tell if I thought there were too many characters because there really were--several minor story lines seemed to disappear by the end of the book--or because they all had similar (and therefore somewhat confusing) Swedish names. I am all for Scandinavian naming conventions, but it was occasionally hard to remember who individual characters were when they popped up after being absent for some time. The book is gripping, however, and ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving me eager for the final installment.
Random Thoughts: There were lots of comparisons between Salander and Pippi Longstocking. I used to really love Pippi--I think I need to re-read those books. And I seem to remember a movie?