The second installment of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, is really good, but unlike the first installment, I felt that there were lots of missing pieces that could only be filled in IF you read the book. Whether they make a difference to enjoying the ride is a different question altogether.

This time, Lisbeth is set up for the murders of a young couple and also for her rapist guardian’s killing. And while the police are looking for her, Mikael is out searching for the real killers. The young man who was murdered (the husband of the couple) was working on an article for Mikael’s magazine about prostitution and human trafficking, and his story was going to name a lot of names of important, well-connected people.

At the end of the first installment, Lisbeth had taken down a powerful businessman and funneled his millions into off-shore accounts with her name on them. So now she is living in a luxury apartment and has given her old one to her girlfriend Miriam Wu. So when Lisbeth is fingered for the murders, the first place everyone looks for Lisbeth is her old apartment. And it isn’t only the police and Mikael who are looking for Lisbeth. Some very bad people start looking for her once her face is splashed all over the papers and the news. Specifically, her dear old Dad who abused her Mom and who 12-years-old Lisbeth showed her affection for by dousing him with gasoline and throwing a lighted match at him. The whole web of human trafficking and other nefarious deeds leads to him and his enormous blond henchman who cannot feel pain and is into torturing people. Miriam is kidnapped by the blond brute who tries to get her to give up Lisbeth’s location. But she doesn’t know where she is. Lisbeth has made sure that no one does.

But Lisbeth being the sleuth she is, she goes about searching for the real killers, too, and soon she is communicating with Mikael and their parallel investigations lead to the same place. The showdown takes place at her father’s country compound where she comes face to face with him for the first time in years and it gets very bloody. I won’t ruin it by giving a blow by blow, but it sets up a fine finale coming in the next installment The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

There is no other film character like Lisbeth Salander — punk, computer hacker, bisexual, secretive, and brilliant. I wish there had been more of her in the film, but for those of us who read the books, the films are a great adaptation and the performance by Noomi Rapace really captures the damaged but resourceful and resilient Lisbeth. If you love the books, you will be happy with the movies. If you haven’t read them, you may have a few moments of confusion, but I think you’ll still enjoy the ride.

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