The sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire takes up Lisbeth Salander's story where it was left off in the first book. At the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth disappeared from Mikael's life because he was involved with another woman. Together, they solved the mystery of the disappearance of a girl named Harriet, but their romantic involvement didn't work out. At the beginning of The Girl Who Played with Fire, we learn that Lisbeth made her way over to the Caribbean and we see her behaving heroically during a hurricane where she saves a woman whose husband is trying to kill her for her money.
After this minor adventure in a warm land, Lisbeth once again returns to Sweden where she inadvertently gets involved in a number of homicides. The main two homicides are those of Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson, journalists who are preparing an exposé for Millenium magazine—the magazine that Mikael works for. Through this exposé, they plan to reveal how people who are high up in the Swedish government are actually involved in sex-trafficking. However, before they can blow the lid off this conspiracy, they are murdered and Lisbeth's fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. It turns out that Lisbeth visited them shortly before the murder because she found out that their research led them to someone named Zala, a figure from Lisbeth's own past.
The other homicide is that of Lisbeth's legal guardian, a lawyer named Nils Bjurman, who previously raped Lisbeth and tried to keep her from controlling her finances. Lisbeth got back at him by torturing him and tattooing him as a rapist. But this was not the end of the matter because in this book, we see that Nils has become obsessed with destroying her. When he is killed at around the same time as the two journalists, Lisbeth becomes the main suspect.
Although Lisbeth goes underground, she and Mikael collaborate once more and uncover what the two dead journalists were researching. In a stunning finale, Lisbeth almost dies, but hangs together just long enough to get back at the man trying to kill her.
Although there's no romance between Lisbeth and Mikael in this book, we learn a lot about Lisbeth's past and how she came to be the person she is today. She's a tough heroine but she's also strangely vulnerable and in this book, she becomes more humanized for us.
Stieg Larsson was raised in northern Sweden where his father worked in a smelting plant. Although his parents later moved to Stockholm, they left Larsson behind with his grandparents because Stockholm was too cramped and crowded. So he stayed in a house in the country and used cross-country skis to go to school. During his lifetime, he did not publish his novels but was instead active in the science fiction community, publishing fanzine issues. He was also an activist who sought avidly to counteract the extreme right and the growing white-power culture in Sweden. As a result, he received many death threats and although he had a life-long partner in Eva Gabrielsson, he didn't marry her, in an effort to reduce the security risks.