Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Enough of a Good Thing

When I first read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (see my blog of November 19, 2008), I thought that I was ahead of the curve. It wasn’t quite so well known at that time. But when The Girl Who Played with Fire came out this summer, I had to wait several months to get a copy from my local library.

I’m not sure it was worth the wait. It has the expected healthy doses of body piercings, sex, beatings, motorcycle chases, and an outsized human “freak”. You do find out more about the personal family background of our Girl heroine Lisbeth Salender (no wonder she is so reserved around people).

But I didn’t really “learn” anything this time. The journalist Mikael Blomkvist’s involvement starts out with a planned expose of sex trafficking but we never really get the details of the trade. This book is pure plot: no character development (unless you count the unacknowledged developing romance between Salender and Mikael Blomkvist), no beautiful language, no thoughtful reflections or philosophy, no history. With all of the wonderful books out there to read and because I am a slow reader, the only reason that I can justify (to myself) reading a thriller is that it comes with something else. There’s a little bit of the art and strategy of boxing; some mathematics in the introductions to the Parts of the book. There is some behind-the-scenes duplicity by the Swedish government with regard to a Russian defector. Maybe that is based on fact or intended to be a cautionary tale. But none of these, alone or in combination, is enough to satisfy my requirement.

But that is just me. If you are at a time and place in which to lose yourself in a book for that purpose alone, then this is a good choice. The author does try to fill the reader in on some of the details of the prior book, but I would highly recommend reading them in order (Tattoo first, then Fire). There will be a third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, but I am content to wait.

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