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The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson He had come.
He smelled of aftershave.
She hated the smell of him.
He...observed her for a long time.
She hated his silence.
Then he spoke to her. He had a dark, clear voice that stressed, pedantically, each word.
She hated his voice.
He laid the back of a moist hand on her forehead and ran his fingers along her hairline in a gesture that was probably intended to be friendly.
She hated his touch.

Lisbeth Salander is simply unforgettable.
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I read the first book in this trilogy the year it was published in English and I remember the book so vividly that even five years later I transitioned into this book as if I’d just finished reading Dragon last week. Salander is 4’11”, but she walks across the literary landscape with such giant strides it is impossible to ignore her. People who have never read the books or seen the movies have a vague idea of who she is. People who have watched the movies or read the books may eventually forget her name decades from now, but they will not forget her persona; her verve; her courage.

Now before we start feeling all warm and fuzzy about Salander there are few problems with knowing her. If you cross her she might throw a Molotov cocktail through your window. She is unreliable, unrelenting, and if you own a computer she will know everything about you. She is a hacker extraordinaire and even though she is extremely private, almost maniacal about her own personal information, she has no problem hacking into your personal affairs after all YOU should have been more careful with it. Despite her bristly exterior and her tendency to answer questions with a stare or a monosyllabic response you might find yourself attracted to her. She has a lesbian friend Mimmi who tries to explain Salander’s relationship with sex.

”Apart from the fact that you’re not a dyke. You’re probably bisexual. But most of all you’re sexual--you like sex and you don’t care about what gender, You’re an entropic chaos factor.”

ENTROPIC CHAOS FACTOR, sounds mathematical and math does play a role in this novel, but my version of what Mimmi meant by that statement is that Salander is a person who will parachute in out of the blue, shag you until your nucleus becomes a comet, and then leave before you’ve had time to light your first coitus joint.

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”A root of an equation is a number which substituted
into the equation instead of an unknown converts
the equation into an identity. The root is said to satisfy
the equation. Solving an equation implies finding
all of its roots. An equation that is always satisfied,
no matter the choice of values for its unknowns,
is called an identity.”

Salander solves complex math equations for relaxation purposes. Throughout the novel she is pursuing the answer to Fermat’s last theorem. Now in the 1990s Andrew Wiles solved the problem using the world’s most advanced computer programme which sounds like cheating to me. When she does figure out Fermat’s intention it is the only time I can remember Stieg Larsson recording his literary heroine...giggling.

Stieg Larsson is an interesting story. He delivered three novels to his publisher and shortly thereafter died from a heart attack, attributed to walking up seven flights of stairs. This unexpected demise helped launch the books onto the bestseller lists. We are morbid aren’t we. He was an investigative reporter by trade and there was an inquiry into whether foul play was involved. It seems he was just a 50 year old man that fate placed a situation in front of him, an out of service elevator, that provided the proper strain to his heart to kill him. What endears these novels to me, even more, is that he wrote them in the evenings as an escape from regular life. Now, there are issues with these books, the use of name brands over and over. You will tire of hearing Powerbook, IKEA and Billy’s Pan Pizza. If Larsson ate as many Billy’s Pan Pizza as Salander does in the book that might be the doughy rope that squeezed his heart.

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Billy's Pan Pizza is YUMMY!!!

Click the link to check out the Billy's Pan Pizza television commercial. It is a hoot.

Despite any issues I had with the writing, and sometimes it was clunky, the raw power of the writing and a compelling plot made those issues irrelevant.

Salander gets along just fine with the majority of the population, but she hates men who hate women. She ran into several of those in the first book and one in particular is seared into my memory, Nils Bjurman. He is the lawyer that has been assigned to her competency case. She was declared incompetent by the courts and assigned Bjurman to take care of her affairs. Salander is a confident person sometimes too confident and in book one she underestimates her ability to control a situation with Bjurman. He turns the tables on her and brutally raped her. With a presence of mind that is beyond most of the rest of us she recorded the rape and even as he is doing the most sadistic things to her she is going over and over in her head where she made the mistake and what she was going to do to him if he allowed her to live. Interesting enough she lets him live, but holds the video over his head like the sword of Damocles.
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Besides the video she does administer her own form of brutal vengeance, but there is a practicality to her decision not to kill him. The courts would simply assign her another mentor that she doesn’t have control of and of course she would have to weather an investigation into his murder. In this book she makes a similar mistake in her pursuit for the man responsible for inspiring the rage and the violence that swirls around her.

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Mikael Blomkvist is back and when his team of writers unearth a white slavery ring he finds himself battling a controversial issue that may impact the highest levels of society. Underage girls are being brought from Russia and forced into prostitution. It would be an easy assumption to make that every member of society would want to eliminate a situation that allows young girls to be exploited against their will. One of the problems is that men in government, in positions of power, enjoy the availability of such young, beautiful girls for their own sexual perversions. Despite the fact that Salander is not talking to Blomkvist, he is baffled as to why, she is drawn into the investigation because of the use of the name of one man... Zalachenko. As she becomes the main focus of the investigation she is forced to go underground, a skill she is particularly adept at, and as the rocket fueled plot comes to a conclusion this reader couldn’t have put this book down even if the building was burning down around my ears because Salander... always... puts out a fire with gasoline.

See these tears so blue
An ageless heart
that can never mend
These tears can never dry
A judgement made
can never bend
See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Just be still with me
You wouldn't believe what I've been thru

You've been so long
Well, it's been so long
And I've been putting out fire
with gasoline
putting out fire with gasoline
David Bowie