Today I finished "The Girl Who Played With Fire", translated by Reg Keeland from the swedish book of the same name by Stieg Larsson. It's the sequel to 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (which is called "Men Who Hate Women" in the original swedish), and I really can't recommend the pair of them highly enough (as you might have guessed from the title of this blog post).
I picked the first book up as the combination of the titular character being described as "an expert computer hacker" and the synopsis on the back cover put me in mind of Neil Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon", not only one of my favourite books but also an outright work of genius, in my opinion. I would describe "Cryptonomicon" as recommended reading if you're the sort of person who breaths oxygen and walks upright, if you work with computers I'd say it verges on being required reading. Since Stephenson lost the plot more recently (in my opinion, that is; I didn't make it more than half way through "Quicksilver" before giving up in pained frustration) there has been a rather large cyber-fiction based hole in my world. "...Dragon Tattoo" seems as though it might be poised to fill it.
In fact it did not. It's a different beast all together. A slow burning and wonderful one, written (and translated) with great skill and care. Both books are very powerful reads, laced with a hatred of misogyny and criticism of a system which doesn't do nearly enough to prevent it. It's also a ripping great yarn of a mystery, full of strong male and female characters. Nominally, the books are the first two parts of a trilogy. In fact Larsson planned ten books and left an unfinished fourth manuscript together with outlines for books five and six when he died. I'm waiting with bated breath for the release of the third book. I just hope it ties things up reasonably well and so won't leave me too curious about the contents of book I'll never be able to read.