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Sunday, January 5
When Blomkvist alighted from his train in Hedestad for the second time, the sky was a pastel blue and the
air icy cold. The thermometer on the wall of the station said 0°F. He was wearing unsuitable walking shoes. Unlike on his previous visit, there was no Herr Frode waiting with a warm car. Blomkvist had told
them which day he would arrive, but not on which train. He assumed there was a bus to Hedeby, but he
did not feel like struggling with two heavy suitcases and a shoulder bag, so he crossed the square to the
It had snowed massively all along the Norrland coast between Christmas and New Year’s, and judging
by the ridges and piles of snow thrown up by the ploughs, the road teams had been out in full force in Hedestad. The taxi driver, whose name, according to his ID posted on the window, was Hussein, nodded
when Blomkvist asked whether they had been having rough weather. In the broadest Norrland accent, he
reported that it had been the worst snowstorm in decades, and he bitterly regretted not taking his holiday in Greece over the Christmas period.
Blomkvist directed him to Henrik Vanger’s newly shovelled courtyard, where he lifted his suitcases on
to the cobblestones and watched the taxi head back towards Hedestad. He suddenly felt lonely and uncertain.
He heard the door open behind him. Vanger was wrapped up in a heavy fur coat, thick boots, and a cap
with earflaps. Blomkvist was in jeans and a thin leather jacket.
“If you’re going to live up here, you need to learn to dress more warmly for this time of year.” They
shook hands. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay in the main house? No? Then I think we’d better start
getting you settled into your new lodgings.”
One of the conditions in his negotiations with Vanger and Dirch Frode had been that he have living quarters where he could do his own housekeeping and come and go as he pleased. Vanger led Blomkvist
back along the road towards the bridge and then turned to open the gate to another newly shovelled courtyard in front of a small timbered house close to the end of the bridge. The house was not locked.
They stepped into a modest hallway where Blomkvist, with a sigh of relief, put down his suitcases.
“This is what we call our guest house. It’s where we usually put people up who are going to stay for a
longer period of time. This was where you and your parents lived in 1963. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the village, but it’s been modernised. I asked Nilsson, my caretaker, to light the fire this morning.”
The house consisted of a large kitchen and two smaller rooms, totalling about 500 square feet. The kitchen took up half the space and was quite modern, with an electric stove and a small refrigerator.
Against the wall facing the front door stood an old cast-iron stove in which a fire had indeed been lit earlier in the day.
“You don’t need to use the woodstove unless it gets bitterly cold. The firewood bin is there in the hallway, and you’ll find a woodshed at the back. The house has been unlived-in this autumn. The electric
heaters are usually sufficient. Just make sure you don’t hang any clothes on them, or it may start a fire.”
Blomkvist looked around. Windows faced three different directions, and from the kitchen table he had a
view of the bridge, about a hundred feet away. The furnishings in the kitchen included three big cupboards, some kitchen chairs, an old bench, and a shelf for newspapers. On top was an issue of See from 1967. In one corner was a smaller table that could be used as a desk.
Two narrow doors led to smaller rooms. The one on the right, closest to the outside wall, was hardly
more than a cubby hole with a desk, a chair, and some shelves along the wall. The other room, between
the hallway and the little office, was a very small bedroom with a narrow double bed, a bedside table,
and a wardrobe. On the walls hung landscape paintings. The furniture and wallpaper in the house were all
old and faded, but the place smelled nice and clean. Someone had worked over the floor with a dose of
soap. The bedroom had another door to the hallway, where a storeroom had been converted into a bathroom with a shower.
“You may have a problem with the water,” Vanger said. “We checked it this morning, but the pipes aren’t buried very deep, and if this cold hangs on for long they may freeze. There’s a bucket in the hallway so come up and get water from us if you need to.”
“I’ll need a telephone,” Blomkvist said.
“I’ve already ordered one. They’ll be here to install it the day after tomorrow. So, what do you think? If you change your mind, you would be welcome in the main house at any time.”
“This will be just fine,” Blomkvist said.
“Excellent. We have another hour or so of daylight left. Shall we take a walk so you can familiarise yourself with the village? Might I suggest that you put on some heavy socks and a pair of boots? You’ll
find them by the front door.” Blomkvist did as he suggested and decided that the very next day he would
go shopping for long underwear and a pair of good winter shoes.
The old man started the tour by explaining that Blomkvist’s neighbour across the road was Gunnar Nilsson, the assistant whom Vanger insisted on calling “the caretaker.” But Blomkvist soon realised that
he was more of a superintendent for all the buildings on Hedeby Island, and he also had responsibility for several buildings in Hedestad.
“His father was Magnus Nilsson, who was my caretaker in the sixties, one of the men who helped out at
the accident on the bridge. Magnus is retired and lives in Hedestad. Gunnar lives here with his wife, whose name is Helena. Their children have moved out.”
Vanger paused for a moment to shape what he would say next, which was: “Mikael, the official explanation for your presence here is that you’re going to help me write my autobiography. That will give
you an excuse for poking around in all the dark corners and asking questions. The real assignment is strictly between you and me and Dirch Frode.”
“I understand. And I’ll repeat what I said before: I don’t think I’m going to be able to solve the mystery.”
“All I ask is that you do your best. But we must be careful what we say in front of anyone else. Gunnar
is fifty-six, which means that he was nineteen when Harriet disappeared. There’s one question that I never got answered—Harriet and Gunnar were good friends, and I think some sort of childish romance went on
between them. He was pretty interested in her, at any rate. But on the day she disappeared, he was in Hedestad; he was one of those stranded on the mainland. Because of their relationship, he came under close scrutiny. It was quite unpleasant for him. He was with some friends all day, and he didn’t get back
here until evening. The police checked his alibi and it was airtight.”
“I assume that you have a list of everyone who was on the island and what everybody was doing that
“That’s correct. Shall we go on?”
They stopped at the crossroads on the hill, and Vanger pointed down towards the old fishing harbour,
now used for small boats.
“All the land on Hedeby Island is owned by the Vanger family—or by me, to be more precise. The one
exception is the farmland at Östergården and a few houses here in the village. The cabins down there at
the fishing harbour are privately owned, but they’re summer cottages and are mostly vacant during the winter. Except for that house farthest away—you can see smoke coming from the chimney.”
Blomkvist saw the smoke rising. He was frozen to the bone.
“It’s a miserably draughty hovel that functions as living quarters year-round. That’s where Eugen Norman lives. He’s in his late seventies and is a painter of sorts. I think his work is kitsch, but he’s rather well known as a landscape painter. You might call him the obligatory eccentric in the village.”
Vanger guided Blomkvist out towards the point, identifying one house after the other. The village consisted of six buildings on the west side of the road and four on the east. The first house, closest to Blomkvist’s guest house and the Vanger estate, belonged to Henrik Vanger’s brother Harald. It was a rectangular, two-storey stone building which at first glance seemed unoccupied. The curtains were drawn
and the path to the front door had not been cleared; it was covered with a foot and a half of snow. On second glance, they could see the footprints of someone who had trudged through the snow from the road
up to the door.
“Harald is a recluse. He and I have never seen eye to eye. Apart from our disagreements over the firm
—he’s a shareholder—we’ve barely spoken to each other in nearly 60 years. He’s ninety-two now, and
the only one of my four brothers still alive. I’ll tell you the details later, but he trained to be a doctor and spent most of his professional life in Uppsala. He moved back to Hedeby when he turned seventy.”
“You don’t care much for each other, and yet you’re neighbours.”
“I find him detestable, and I would have rather he’d stayed in Uppsala, but he owns this house. Do I
sound like a scoundrel?”
“You sound like someone who doesn’t much like his brother.”
“I spent the first twenty-five years of my life apologising for people like Harald because we’re family.
Then I discovered that being related is no guarantee of love and I had few reasons to defend Harald.”
The next house belonged to Isabella, Harriet Vanger’s mother.
“She’ll be seventy-five this year, and she’s still as stylish and vain as ever. She’s also the only one in the village who talks to Harald, and occasionally visits him, but they don’t have much in common.”
“How was her relationship with Harriet?”
“Good question. The women have to be included among the suspects. I told you that she mostly left the
children to their own devices. I can’t be sure, but I think her heart was in the right place; she just wasn’t capable of taking responsibility. She and Harriet were never close, but they weren’t enemies either.
Isabella can be tough, but sometimes she’s not all there. You’ll see what I mean when you meet her.”
Isabella’s neighbour was Cecilia Vanger, the daughter of Harald.
“She was married once and lived in Hedestad, but she and her husband separated some twenty years
ago. I own the house and offered to let her move in. She is a teacher, and in many ways she’s the direct
opposite of her father. I might add that she and her father speak to each other only when necessary.”
“How old is she?”
“Born in 1946. So she was twenty when Harriet disappeared. And yes, she was one of the guests on the
island that day. Cecilia may seem flighty, but in fact she’s shrewder than most. Don’t underestimate her. If anyone’s going to ferret out what you’re up to, she’s the one. I might add that she’s one of my relatives for whom I have the highest regard.”
“Does that mean that you don’t suspect her?”
“I wouldn’t say that. I want you to ponder the matter without any constraints, regardless of what I think
The house closest to Cecilia’s was also owned by Henrik Vanger, but it was leased to an elderly couple
formerly part of the management team of the Vanger companies. They had moved to Hedeby Island in the
eighties, so they had nothing to do with Harriet’s disappearance. The next house was owned by Birger Vanger, Cecilia’s brother. The house had been empty for many years since Birger moved to a modern house in Hedestad.
Most of the buildings lining the road were solid stone structures from the early twentieth century. The
last house was of a different type, a modern, architect-designed home built of white brick with black window frames. It was in a beautiful situation, and Blomkvist could see that the view from the top floor
must be magnificent, facing the sea to the east and Hedestad to the north.
“This is where Martin lives—Harriet’s brother and the Vanger Corporation CEO. The parsonage used
to be here, but that building was destroyed by a fire in the seventies, and Martin built this house in 1978
when he took over as CEO.”
In the last building on the east side of the road lived Gerda Vanger, widow of Henrik’s brother Greger,
and her son, Alexander.
“Gerda is sickly. She suffers from rheumatism. Alexander owns a small share of the Vanger
Corporation, but he runs a number of his own businesses, including restaurants. He usually spends a few
months each year in Barbados, where he has invested a considerable sum in the tourist trade.”
Between Gerda’s and Henrik’s houses was a plot of land with two smaller, empty buildings. They were
used as guest houses for family members. On the other side of Henrik’s house stood a private dwelling
where another retired employee lived with his wife, but it was empty in the winter when the couple repaired to Spain.
They returned to the crossroads, and with that the tour was over. Dusk was beginning to fall. Blomkvist
took the initiative.
“Henrik, I’ll do what I’ve been hired to do. I’ll write your autobiography, and I’ll humour you by reading all the material about Harriet as carefully and critically as I can. I just want you to realise that I’m not a private detective.”
“I expect nothing.”
“I’m a night owl,” Vanger said. “So I’m at your disposal any time after lunch. I’ll arrange for you to
have an office up here, and you can make use of it whenever you like.”
“No, thank you. I have an office in the guest house, and that’s where I’ll do my work.”
“As you wish.”
“If I need to talk to you, we’ll do it in your office, but I’m not going to start throwing questions at you tonight.”
“I understand.” The old man seemed improbably timid.
“It’s going to take a couple of weeks to read through the papers. We’ll work on two fronts. We’ll meet
for a few hours each day so that I can interview you and gather material for your biography. When I start
having questions about Harriet which I need to discuss with you, I’ll let you know.”
“That sounds sensible.”
“I’m going to require a free hand to do my work, and I won’t have any set work hours.”
“You decide for yourself how the work should be done.”
“I suppose you’re aware that I have to spend a couple of months in prison. I don’t know exactly when,
but I’m not going to appeal. It’ll probably be sometime this year.”
Vanger frowned. “That’s unfortunate. We’ll have to solve that problem when it comes up. You can always request a postponement.”
“If it’s permitted and I have enough material, I might be able to work on your book in prison. One more
thing: I’m still part owner of Millennium and as of now it’s a magazine in crisis. If something happens that requires my presence in Stockholm, I would have to drop what I’m doing and go there.”
“I didn’t take you on as a serf. I want you to do a thorough job on the assignment I’ve given you, but, of course, you can set your own schedule and do the work as you see fit. If you need to take some time off,
feel free to do it, but if I find out that you’re not doing the work, I’ll consider that a breach of contract.”
Vanger looked over towards the bridge. He was a gaunt man, and Blomkvist thought that he looked at
that moment like a melancholy scarecrow.
“As far as Millennium is concerned, we ought to have a discussion about what kind of crisis it’s in and whether I can help in some way.”
“The best assistance you can offer is to give me Wennerström’s head on a platter right here and now.”
“Oh no, I’m not thinking of doing that.” The old man gave Blomkvist a hard look. “The only reason you
took this job was because I promised to expose Wennerström. If I give you the information now, you could
stop work on the job whenever you felt like it. I’ll give you the information a year from now.”
“Henrik, forgive me for saying this, but I can’t be sure that a year from now you’ll be alive.”
Vanger sighed and cast a thoughtful gaze over the fishing harbour.
“Fair enough. I’ll talk to Frode and see if we can work something out. But as far as Millennium is concerned, I might be able to help in another way. As I understand it, the advertisers have begun to pull
“The advertisers are the immediate problem, but the crisis goes deeper than that. It’s a matter of trust. It doesn’t matter how many advertisers we have if no-one wants to buy the magazine.”
“I realise that. I’m still on the board of directors of quite a large corporation, albeit in a passive role.
We have to place advertisements somewhere. Let’s discuss the matter at some stage. Would you like to have dinner . . .”
“No. I want to get settled, buy some groceries, and take a look around. Tomorrow I’ll go to Hedestad
and shop for winter clothes.”
“I’d like the files about Harriet to be moved over to my place.”
“They need to be handled . . .”
“With great care—I understand.”
Blomkvist returned to the guest house. His teeth were chattering by the time he got indoors. The thermometer outside the window said 5°F, and he couldn’t remember ever feeling so cold as after that walk, which had lasted barely twenty minutes.
He spent an hour settling himself into what was to be his home for the coming year. He put his clothes
in the wardrobe in the bedroom, his toiletries went in the bathroom cabinet. His second suitcase was actually a trunk on wheels. From it he took books, CDs and a CD player, notebooks, a Sanyo tape recorder, a Microtek scanner, a portable ink-jet printer, a Minolta digital camera, and a number of other
items he regarded as essential kit for a year in exile.
He arranged the books and the CDs on the bookshelf in the office alongside two binders containing research material on Hans-Erik Wennerström. The material was useless, but he could not let it go.
Somehow he had to turn those two folders into building blocks for his continuing career.
Finally he opened his shoulder bag and put his iBook on the desk in the office. Then he stopped and
looked about him with a sheepish expression. The benefits of living in the countryside, forsooth. There was nowhere to plug in the broadband cable. He did not even have a telephone jack to connect an old dial-up modem.
Blomkvist called the Telia telephone company from his mobile. After a slight hassle, he managed to get
someone to find the order that Vanger had placed for the guest house. He wanted to know whether the connection could handle ADSL and was told that it would be possible by way of a relay in Hedeby, and
that it would take several days.
It was after 4:00 by the time Blomkvist was done. He put on a pair of thick socks and the borrowed boots
and pulled on an extra sweater. At the front door he stopped short; he had been given no keys to the house, and his big-city instincts rebelled at the idea of leaving the front door unlocked. He went back to the kitchen and began opening drawers. Finally he found a key hanging from a nail in the pantry.
The temperature had dropped to −1°F. He walked briskly across the bridge and up the hill past the church. The Konsum store was conveniently located about three hundred yards away. He filled two paper
bags to overflowing with supplies and then carried them home before returning across the bridge. This time he stopped at Susanne’s Bridge Café. The woman behind the counter was in her fifties. He asked whether she was Susanne and then introduced himself by saying that he was undoubtedly going to be a regular customer. He was for the time being the only customer, and Susanne offered him coffee when he
ordered sandwiches and bought a loaf of bread. He picked up a copy of the Hedestad Courier from the newspaper rack and sat at a table with a view of the bridge and the church, its facade now lit up. It looked like a Christmas card. It took him about four minutes to read the newspaper. The only news of interest was a brief item explaining that a local politician by the name of Birger Vanger (Liberal) was going to invest in “IT TechCent”—a technology development centre in Hedestad. Mikael sat there until the café closed at
At 7:30 he called Berger, but was advised that the party at that number was not available. He sat on the
kitchen bench and tried to read a novel which, according to the back cover text, was the sensational debut of a teenage feminist. The novel was about the author’s attempt to get a handle on her sex life during a trip to Paris, and Blomkvist wondered whether he could be called a feminist if he wrote a novel about his own sex life in the voice of a high-school student. Probably not. He had bought the book because the publisher had hailed the first-time novelist as “a new Carina Rydberg.” He quickly ascertained that this
was not the case in either style or content. He put the book aside for a while and instead read a Hopalong Cassidy story in an issue of Rekordmagasinet from the mid-fifties.
Every half hour he heard the curt, muted clang of the church bell. Lights were visible in the windows at
the home of the caretaker across the road, but Blomkvist could not see anyone inside the house. Harald
Vanger’s house was dark. Around 9:00 a car drove across the bridge and disappeared towards the point.
At midnight the lights on the facade of the church were turned off. That was apparently the full extent of the entertainment in Hedeby on a Friday night in early January. It was eerily quiet.
He tried again to call Berger and got her voicemail, asking him to leave his name and a message. He
did so and then turned off the light and went to bed. The last thing he thought about before he fell asleep was that he was going to run a high risk of going stir-crazy in Hedeby.
It was strange to awake to utter silence. Blomkvist passed from deep sleep to total alertness in a fraction of a second, and then lay still, listening. It was cold in the room. He turned his head and looked at his wristwatch on a stool next to the bed. It was 7:08—he had never been much of a morning person, and it
used to be hard for him to wake up without having at least two alarm clocks. Today he had woken all by
himself, and he even felt rested.
He put some water on for coffee before getting into the shower. He was suddenly amused at his situation. Kalle Blomkvist—on a research trip in the back of beyond.
The shower head changed from scalding to ice-cold at the slightest touch. There was no morning paper
on the kitchen table. The butter was frozen. There was no cheese slicer in the drawer of kitchen utensils. It was still pitch dark outside. The thermometer showed 6 below zero. It was Saturday.
The bus stop for Hedestad was over the road from Konsum, and Blomkvist started off his exile by carrying out his plan to go shopping in town. He got off the bus by the railway station and made a tour of the centre of town. Along the way he bought heavy winter boots, two pairs of long underwear, several flannel shirts, a proper thigh-length winter jacket, a warm cap, and lined gloves. At the electronics store he found a small portable TV with rabbit ears. The sales clerk assured him that he would at least be able
to get SVT, the state TV channel, out at Hedeby, and Blomkvist promised to ask for his money back if that
turned out not to be the case.
He stopped at the library to get himself a card and borrowed two mysteries by Elizabeth George. He
bought pens and notebooks. He also bought a rucksack for carrying his new possessions.
Finally he bought a pack of cigarettes. He had stopped smoking ten years ago, but occasionally he would have a relapse. He stuck the pack in his jacket pocket without opening it. His last stop was the optician’s, and there he bought contact lens solution and ordered new lenses.
By 2:00 he was back in Hedeby, and he was just removing the price tags from his new clothes when he
heard the front door open. A blonde woman—perhaps in her fifties—knocked on the open kitchen door as
she stepped across the threshold. She was carrying a sponge cake on a platter.
“Hello. I just wanted to come over to introduce myself. My name is Helena Nilsson, and I live across
the road. I hear we’re going to be neighbours.”
They shook hands and he introduced himself.
“Oh yes, I’ve seen you on TV. It’s going to be nice to see lights over here in the evening.”
Blomkvist put on some coffee. She began to object but then sat at the kitchen table, casting a furtive glance out the window.
“Here comes Henrik with my husband. It looks like some boxes for you.”
Vanger and Gunnar Nilsson drew up outside with a dolly, and Blomkvist rushed out to greet them and to
help carry the four packing crates inside. They set the boxes on the floor next to the stove. Blomkvist got out the coffee cups and cut into Fröken Nilsson’s sponge cake.
The Nilssons were pleasant people. They did not seem curious about why Blomkvist was in Hedestad
—the fact that he was working for Henrik Vanger was evidently enough of an explanation. Blomkvist observed the interaction between the Nilssons and Vanger, concluding that it was relaxed and lacking in
any sort of gulf between master and servants. They talked about the village and the man who had built the
guest house where Blomkvist was living. The Nilssons would prompt Vanger when his memory failed him. He, on the other hand, told a funny story about how Nilsson had come home one night to discover the
village idiot from across the bridge trying to break a window at the guest house. Nilsson went over to ask the half-witted delinquent why he didn’t go in through the unlocked front door. Nilsson inspected Blomkvist’s little TV with misgiving and invited him to come across to their house if there was ever a programme he wanted to see.
Vanger stayed on briefly after the Nilssons left. He thought it best that Blomkvist sort through the files himself, and he could come to the house if he had any problems.
When he was alone once more, Blomkvist carried the boxes into his office and made an inventory of
Vanger’s investigation into the disappearance of his brother’s granddaughter had been going on for thirty-
six years. Blomkvist wondered whether this was an unhealthy obsession or whether, over the years, it had
developed into an intellectual game. What was clear was that the old patriarch had tackled the job with
the systematic approach of an amateur archaeologist—the material was going to fill twenty feet of shelving.
The largest section of it consisted of twenty-six binders, which were the copies of the police investigation. Hard to believe an ordinary missing-person case would have produced such comprehensive
material. Vanger no doubt had enough clout to keep the Hedestad police following up both plausible and
Then there were scrapbooks, photograph albums, maps, texts about Hedestad and the Vanger firm, Harriet’s diary (though it did not contain many pages), her schoolbooks, medical certificates. There were
sixteen bound A4 volumes of one hundred or so pages each, which were Vanger’s logbook of the investigations. In these notebooks he had recorded in an impeccable hand his own speculations, theories,
digressions. Blomkvist leafed through them. The text had a literary quality, and he had the feeling that these texts were fair copies of perhaps many more notebooks. There were ten binders containing material
on members of the Vanger family; these pages were typed and had been compiled over the intervening years, Vanger’s investigations of his own family.
Around 7:00 he heard a loud meowing at the front door. A reddish-brown cat slipped swiftly past him
into the warmth.
“Wise cat,” he said.
The cat sniffed around the guest house for a while. Mikael poured some milk into a dish, and his guest
lapped it up. Then the cat hopped on to the kitchen bench and curled up. And there she stayed.
It was after 10:00 before Blomkvist had the scope of the material clear in his mind and had arranged it on the shelves. He put on a pot of coffee and made himself two sandwiches. He had not eaten a proper meal
all day, but he was strangely uninterested in food. He offered the cat a piece of sausage and some liverwurst. After drinking his coffee, he took the cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and opened the pack.
He checked his mobile. Berger had not called. He tried her once more. Again only her voicemail.
One of the first steps Blomkvist had taken was to scan in the map of Hedeby Island that he had borrowed from Vanger. While all the names were still fresh in his mind, he wrote down who lived in each
house. The Vanger clan consisted of such an extensive cast that it would take time to learn who was who.
Just before midnight he put on warm clothes and his new shoes and walked across the bridge. He turned
off the road and along the sound below the church. Ice had formed on the sound and inside the old harbour, but farther out he could see a darker belt of open water. As he stood there, the lights on the facade of the church went out, and it was dark all around him. It was icy cold and stars filled the sky.
All of a sudden Blomkvist felt depressed. He could not for the life of him understand how he had allowed Vanger to talk him into taking on this assignment. Berger was right: he should be in Stockholm—
in bed with her, for instance—and planning his campaigns against Wennerström. But he felt apathetic about that too, and he didn’t even have the faintest idea how to begin planning a counter-strategy.
Had it been daylight, he would have walked straight to Vanger’s house, cancelled his contract, and gone
home. But from the rise beside the church he could make out all the houses on the island side. Harald Vanger’s house was dark, but there were lights on in Cecilia’s home, as well as in Martin’s villa out by
the point and in the house that was leased. In the small-boat harbour there were lights on in the draughty cabin of the artist and little clouds of sparks were rising from his chimney. There were also lights on in the top floor of the café, and Blomkvist wondered whether Susanne lived there, and if so, whether she was alone.
On Sunday morning he awoke in panic at the incredible din that filled the guest house. It took him a second to get his bearings and realise that it was the church bells summoning parishioners to morning service. It was nearly 11:00. He stayed in bed until he heard an urgent meowing in the doorway and got up
to let out the cat.
By noon he had showered and eaten breakfast. He went resolutely into his office and took down the first binder from the police investigation. Then he hesitated. From the gable window he could see
Susanne’s Bridge Café. He stuffed the binder into his shoulder bag and put on his outdoor clothes. When
he reached the café, he found it brimming with customers, and there he had the answer to a question that
had been in the back of his mind: how could a café survive in a backwater like Hedeby? Susanne specialised in churchgoers and presumably did coffee and cakes for funerals and other functions.
He took a walk instead. Konsum was closed on Sundays, and he continued a few hundred yards towards Hedestad, where he bought newspapers at a petrol station. He spent an hour walking around Hedeby, familiarising himself with the town before the bridge. The area closest to the church and past Konsum was the centre, with older buildings—two-storey stone structures which Blomkvist guessed had
been built in the 1910s or ’20s and which formed a short main street. North of the road into town were
well-kept apartment buildings for families with children. Along the water and to the south of the church
were mostly single-family homes. Hedeby looked to be a relatively well-to-do area for Hedestad’s decision-makers and civil servants.
When he returned to the bridge, the assault on the café had ebbed, but Susanne was still clearing dishes
from the tables.
“The Sunday rush?” he said in greeting.
She nodded as she tucked a lock of hair behind one ear. “Hi, Mikael.”
“So you remember my name.”
“Hard to forget,” she said. “I followed your trial on TV.”
“They have to fill up the news with something,” he muttered, and drifted over to the corner table with a
view of the bridge. When he met Susanne’s eyes, she smiled.
At 3:00 Susanne announced that she was closing the café for the day. After the church rush, only a few customers had come and gone. Blomkvist had read more than a fifth of the first binder of the police investigation. He stuck his notebook into his bag and walked briskly home across the bridge.
The cat was waiting on the steps. He looked around, wondering whose cat it was. He let it inside all
the same, since the cat was at least some sort of company.
He made one more vain attempt to reach Berger. Obviously she was furious with him still. He could
have tried calling her direct line at the office or her home number, but he had already left enough messages. Instead, he made himself coffee, moved the cat farther along the kitchen bench, and opened the
binder on the table.
He read carefully and slowly, not wanting to miss any detail. By late evening, when he closed the binder, he had filled several pages of his own notebook—with reminders and questions to which he hoped to find answers in subsequent binders. The material was all arranged in chronological order. He
could not tell whether Vanger had reorganised it that way or whether that was the system used by the police at the time.
The first page was a photocopy of a handwritten report form headed Hedestad Police Emergency Centre. The officer who had taken the call had signed his name D.O. Ryttinger, and Blomkvist assumed the
“D.O.” stood for “duty officer.” The caller was Henrik Vanger. His address and telephone number had been noted. The report was dated Sunday, September 25, 1966, at 11:14 a.m. The text was laconic:
Call from Hrk. Vanger, stating that his brother’s daughter (?) Harriet Ulrika VANGER, born 15 Jan.
1950 (age 16) has been missing from her home on Hedeby Island since Saturday afternoon. The caller
expressed great concern.
A note sent at 11:20 a.m. stated that P-014 (police car? patrol? pilot of a boat?) had been sent to the
Another at 11:35 a.m., in a less legible hand than Ryttinger’s, inserted that Off. Magnusson reports that bridge to Hedeby Island still blocked. Transp. by boat. In the margin an illegible signature.
At 12:14 p.m. Ryttinger is back: Telephone conversation Off. Magnusson in H-by confirms that 16-
year-old Harriet Vanger missing since early Saturday afternoon. Family expressed great concern. Not
believed to have slept in her bed last night. Could not have left island due to blocked bridge. None of family members has any knowledge as to HV’s whereabouts.
At 12:19 p.m.: G.M. informed by telephone about the situation.
The last note was recorded at 1:42 p.m.: G.M. on site at H-by; will take over the matter.
The next page revealed that the initials “G.M.” referred to Detective Inspector Gustaf Morell, who arrived at Hedeby Island by boat and there took over command, preparing a formal report on the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. Unlike the initial notations with their needless abbreviations, Morell’s
reports were written on a typewriter and in very readable prose. The following pages recounted what measures had been taken, with an objectivity and wealth of detail that surprised Blomkvist.
Morell had first interviewed Henrik Vanger along with Isabella Vanger, Harriet’s mother. Then he talked in turn with Ulrika Vanger, Harald Vanger, Greger Vanger, Harriet’s brother Martin Vanger, and Anita Vanger. Blomkvist came to the conclusion that these interviews had been conducted according to a
scale of decreasing importance.
Ulrika Vanger was Henrik Vanger’s mother, and evidently she held a status comparable to that of a dowager queen. Ulrika lived at the Vanger estate and was able to provide no information. She had gone to
bed early on the previous night and had not seen Harriet for several days. She appeared to have insisted
on meeting Detective Inspector Morell solely to give air to her opinion that the police had to act at once, immediately.
Harald Vanger ranked as number two on the list. He had seen Harriet only briefly when she returned
from the festivities in Hedestad, but he had not seen her since the accident on the bridge occurred and he had no knowledge of where she might be at present.
Greger Vanger, brother of Henrik and Harald, stated that he had seen the missing sixteen-year-old in Henrik Vanger’s study, asking to speak with Henrik after her visit to Hedestad earlier in the day. Greger
Vanger stated that he had not spoken with her himself, merely given her a greeting. He had no idea where
she might be found, but he expressed the view that she had probably, thoughtlessly, gone to visit some friend without telling anyone and would reappear soon. When asked how she might in that case have left
the island, he offered no answer.
Martin Vanger was interviewed in a cursory fashion. He was in his final year at the preparatory school
in Uppsala, where he lived in the home of Harald Vanger. There was no room for him in Harald’s car, so
he had taken the train home to Hedeby, arriving so late that he was stranded on the wrong side of the bridge accident and could not cross until late in the evening by boat. He was interviewed in the hope that his sister might have confided in him and perhaps given him some clue if she was thinking of running away. The question was met with protests from Harriet Vanger’s mother, but at that moment Inspector Morell was perhaps thinking that Harriet’s having run away would be the best they could hope for. But
Martin had not spoken with his sister since the summer holiday and had no information of value.
Anita Vanger, daughter of Harald Vanger, was erroneously listed as Harriet’s “first cousin.” She was in
her first year at the university in Stockholm and had spent the summer in Hedeby. She was almost the same
age as Harriet and they had become close friends. She stated that she had arrived at the island with her
father on Saturday and was looking forward to seeing Harriet, but she had not had the opportunity to find
her. Anita stated that she felt uneasy, and that it was not like Harriet to go off without telling the family.
Henrik and Isabella Vanger confirmed that this was the case.
While Inspector Morell was interviewing family members, he had told Magnusson and Bergman—
patrol 014—to organise the first search party while there was still daylight. The bridge was still closed to traffic, so it was difficult to call in reinforcements. The group consisted of about thirty available individuals, men and women of varying ages. The areas they searched that afternoon included the unoccupied houses at the fishing harbour, the shoreline at the point and along the sound, the section of woods closest to the village, and the hill called Söderberget behind the fishing harbour. The latter was searched because someone had put forward the theory that Harriet might have gone up there to get a good
view of the scene on the bridge. Patrols were also sent out to Östergården and to Gottfried’s cabin on the other side of the island, which Harriet occasionally visited.
But the search was fruitless; it was not called off until long after dark fell, at 10:00 at night. The temperature overnight dropped to freezing.
During the afternoon Inspector Morell set up his headquarters in a drawing room that Henrik Vanger had put at his disposal on the ground floor of the Vanger estate office. He had undertaken a number of measures.
In the company of Isabella Vanger, he had examined Harriet’s room and tried to ascertain whether anything was missing: clothes, a suitcase, or the like, which would indicate that Harriet had run away from home. Isabella, a note implied, had not been helpful and did not seem to be familiar with her daughter’s wardrobe. She often wore jeans, but they all look the same, don’t they? Harriet’s purse was on her desk. It contained ID, a wallet holding nine kronor and fifty öre, a comb, a mirror, and a handkerchief. After the inspection, Harriet’s room was locked.
Morell had summoned more people to be interviewed, family members and employees. All the
interviews were meticulously reported.
When the participants in the first search party began returning with disheartening reports, the inspector
decided that a more systematic search had to be made. That evening and night, reinforcements were called
in. Morell contacted, among others, the chairman of Hedestad’s Orienteering Club and appealed for help
in summoning volunteers for the search party. By midnight he was told that fifty-three members, mostly from the junior division, would be at the Vanger estate at 7:00 the next morning. Henrik Vanger called in
part of the morning shift, numbering fifty men, from the paper mill. He also arranged for food and drink
for them all.
Blomkvist could vividly imagine the scenes played out at the Vanger estate during those days. The accident on the bridge had certainly contributed to the confusion during the first hours—by making it difficult to bring in reinforcements, and also because people somehow thought that these two dramatic events happening at the same place and close to the same time must in some way have been connected.
When the tanker truck was hoisted away, Inspector Morell went down to the bridge to be sure that Harriet
Vanger had not, by some unlikely turn of events, ended up under the wreck. That was the only irrational
action that Mikael could detect in the inspector’s conduct, since the missing girl had unquestionably been seen on the island after the accident had occurred.
During those first confused twenty-four hours, their hopes that the situation would come to a swift and happy resolution sank. Instead, they were gradually replaced by two theories. In spite of the obvious difficulties in leaving the island unnoticed, Morell refused to discount the possibility that she had run away. He decided that an all-points bulletin should be sent out for Harriet Vanger, and he gave instructions for the patrol officers in Hedestad to keep their eyes open for the missing girl. He also sent a colleague in the criminal division to interview bus drivers and staff at the railway station, to find out whether anyone might have seen her.
As the negative reports came in, it became increasingly likely that Harriet Vanger had fallen victim to
some sort of misfortune. This theory ended up dominating the investigative work of the following days.
The big search party two days after her disappearance was apparently, as far as Blomkvist could tell,
carried out effectively. Police and firefighters who had experience with similar operations had organised
the search. Hedeby Island did have some parts that were almost inaccessible, but it was nevertheless a
small area, and the island was searched with a fine-tooth comb in one day. A police boat and two volunteer Pettersson boats did what they could to search the waters around the island.
On the following day the search was continued with decreased manpower. Patrols were sent out to make a second sweep of the particularly rugged terrain, as well as an area known as “the fortress”—a now-abandoned bunker system that was built during the Second World War. That day they also searched
cubbyholes, wells, vegetable cellars, outhouses, and attics in the village.
A certain frustration could be read in the official notes when the search was called off on the third day
after the girl’s disappearance. Morell was, of course, not yet aware of it, but at that moment he had actually reached as far in the investigation as he would ever get. He was puzzled and struggled to identify the natural next step or any place where the search ought to be pursued. Harriet Vanger seemed to have
dissolved into thin air, and Henrik Vanger’s years of torment had begun.
Monday, January 6–
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