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Tuesday, June 10
After six months of fruitless cogitation, the case of Harriet Vanger cracked open. In the first week of June, Blomkvist uncovered three totally new pieces of the puzzle. Two of them he found himself. The third he
had help with.
After Berger’s visit in May, he had studied the album again, sitting for three hours, looking at one photograph after another, as he tried to rediscover what it was that he had reacted to. He failed again, so he put the album aside and went back to work on the family chronicle instead.
One day in June he was in Hedestad, thinking about something altogether different, when his bus turned
on to Järnvägsgatan and it suddenly came to him what had been germinating in the back of his mind. The
insight struck him like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. He felt so confused that he stayed on the bus all the way to the last stop by the railway station. There he took the first bus back to Hedeby to check whether he had remembered correctly.
It was the first photograph in the album, the last picture taken of Harriet Vanger on that fateful day on
Järnvägsgatan in Hedestad, while she had been watching the Children’s Day parade.
The photograph was an odd one to have included in the album. It was put there because it was taken the
same day, but it was the only one of the photographs not of the accident on the bridge. Each time Blomkvist and (he supposed) everyone else had looked at the album, it was the people and the details in
the pictures of the bridge that had captured their attention. There was no drama in the picture of a crowd at the Children’s Day parade, several hours earlier.
Vanger must have looked at the photograph a thousand times, a sorrowful reminder that he would never
see her again.
But that was not what Blomkvist had reacted to.
It was taken from across the street, probably from a first-floor window. The wide-angle lens had caught
the front of one of the floats. On the flatbed were women wearing glittering bathing suits and harem trousers, throwing sweets to the crowd. Some of them were dancing. Three clowns were jumping about in
front of the float.
Harriet was in the front row of the crowd standing on the pavement. Next to her were three girls, clearly her classmates, and around and behind them were at least a hundred other spectators.
This is what Blomkvist had noticed subconsciously and which suddenly rose to the surface when the
bus passed the exact same spot.
The crowd behaved as an audience should. Their eyes always follow the ball in a tennis match or the
puck in an ice hockey rink. The ones standing at the far left of the photograph were looking at the clowns right in front of them. The ones closer to the float were all looking at the scantily clad girls. The expressions on their faces were calm. Children pointed. Some were laughing. Everyone looked happy.
All except one.
Harriet Vanger was looking off to the side. Her three friends and everyone else in her vicinity were looking at the clowns. Harriet’s face was turned almost 30° to 35° to her right. Her gaze seemed fixed on
something across the street, but beyond the left-hand edge of the photograph.
Mikael took the magnifying glass and tried to make out the details. The photograph was taken from too
great a distance for him to be entirely sure, but unlike all those around her, Harriet’s face lacked excitement. Her mouth was a thin line. Her eyes were wide open. Her hands hung limply at her sides. She
looked frightened. Frightened or furious.
Mikael took the print out of the album, put it in a stiff plastic binder, and went to wait for the next bus back into Hedestad. He got off at Järnvägsgatan and stood under the window from which the picture must
have been taken. It was at the edge of what constituted Hedestad’s town centre. It was a two-storey wooden building that housed a video store and Sundström’s Haber-dashery, established in 1932
according to a plaque on the front door. He went in and saw that the shop was on two levels; a spiral staircase led to the upper floor.
At the top of the spiral staircase two windows faced the street.
“May I help you?” said an elderly salesman when Blomkvist took out the binder with the photograph.
There were only a few people in the shop.
“Well, I just wanted to see where this picture was taken from. Would it be OK if I opened the window
for a second?”
The man said yes. Blomkvist could see exactly the spot where Harriet had stood. One of the wooden
buildings behind her in the photograph was gone, replaced by an angular brick building. The other wooden building had been a stationery store in 1966; now it was a health food store and tanning salon.
Blomkvist closed the window, thanked the man, and apologised for taking up his time.
He crossed the street and stood where Harriet had stood. He had good landmarks between the window
of the upper floor of the haberdashery and the door of the tanning salon. He turned his head and looked
along Harriet’s line of sight. As far as he could tell, she had been looking towards the corner of the building that housed Sundström’s Haberdashery. It was a perfectly normal corner of a building, where a
cross street vanished behind it. What did you see there, Harriet?
Blomkvist put the photograph in his shoulder bag and walked to the park by the station. There he sat in a
pavement café and ordered a latte. He suddenly felt shaken.
In English they call it “new evidence,” which has a very different sound from the Swedish term, “new
proof material.” He had seen something entirely new, something no-one else had noticed in an investigation that had been marking time for thirty-seven years.
The problem was that he wasn’t sure what value his new information had, if indeed it could have any at
all. And yet he felt it was going to prove significant.
The September day when Harriet disappeared had been dramatic in a number of ways. It had been a
day of celebration in Hedestad with crowds of several thousand in the streets, young and old. It had been
the family’s annual assembly on Hedeby Island. These two events alone represented departures from the
daily routine of the area. The crash on the bridge had overshadowed everything else.
Inspector Morell, Henrik Vanger, and everyone else who had brooded about Harriet’s disappearance had focused on the events at Hedeby Island. Morell had even written that he could not rid himself of the
suspicion that the accident and Harriet’s disappearance were related. Blomkvist was now convinced that
this notion was wrong.
The chain of events had started not on Hedeby Island but in Hedestad several hours earlier. Harriet Vanger had seen something or someone to frighten her and prompt her to go home, go straight to her uncle,
who unhappily did not have time to listen to her. Then the accident on the bridge happened. Then the murderer struck.
Blomkvist paused. It was the first time he had consciously formulated the assumption that Harriet had
been murdered. He accepted Vanger’s belief. Harriet was dead and he was hunting for a killer.
He went back to the police report. Among all the thousands of pages only a fraction dealt with the events in Hedestad. Harriet had been with three of her classmates, all of whom had been interviewed.
They had met at the park by the station at 9:00. One of the girls was going to buy some jeans, and her friends went with her. They had coffee in the EPA department store cafeteria and then went up to the sports field and strolled around among the carnival booths and fishing ponds, where they ran into some
other friends from school. At noon they wandered back into town to watch the parade. Just before 2:00 in
the afternoon Harriet suddenly told them that she had to go home. They said goodbye at a bus stop near
None of her friends had noticed anything unusual. One of them was Inger Stenberg, the one who had described Harriet’s transformation over the past year by saying that she had become “impersonal.” She said that Harriet had been taciturn that day, which was usual, and mostly she just followed the others.
Inspector Morell had talked to all of the people who had encountered Harriet that day, even if they had
only said hello in the grounds of the family party. A photograph of her was published in the local newspapers while the search was going on. After she went missing, several residents of Hedestad had contacted the police to say that they thought they had seen her during the day of the parade, but no-one had reported anything out of the ordinary.
The next morning Blomkvist found Vanger at his breakfast table.
“You said that the Vanger family still has an interest in the Hedestad Courier.”
“I’d like to have access to their photographic archive. From 1966.”
Vanger set down his glass of milk and wiped his upper lip.
“Mikael, what have you discovered?”
He looked the old man straight in the eye.
“Nothing solid. But I think we may have made a mistake about the chain of events.”
He showed Vanger the photograph and told him what he was thinking. Vanger sat saying nothing for a
“If I’m right, we have to look as far as we still can at what happened in Hedestad that day, not just at
what happened on Hedeby Island,” Blomkvist said. “I don’t know how to go about it after such a long time, but a lot of photographs must have been taken of the Children’s Day celebrations which were never
published. Those are the ones I want to look at.”
Vanger used the telephone in the kitchen. He called Martin, explained what he wanted, and asked who
the pictures editor was these days. Within ten minutes the right people had been located and access had
The pictures editor of the Hedestad Courier was Madeleine Blomberg, called Maja. She was the first woman pictures editor Blomkvist had met in journalism, where photography was still primarily a male art
Since it was Saturday, the newsroom was empty, but Maja Blomberg turned out to live only five minutes away, and she met Blomkvist at the office entrance. She had worked at the Hedestad Courier for most of her life. She started as a proofreader in 1964, changed to photo-finisher and spent a number of
years in the darkroom, while occasionally being sent out as a photographer when the usual resources were
insufficient. She had gained the position of editor, earned a full-time post on the picture desk, and ten years ago, when the old pictures editor retired, she took over as head of the department.
Blomkvist asked how the picture archive was arranged.
“To tell you the truth, the archive is rather a mess. Since we got computers and digital photographs, the
current archive is on CDs. We’ve had an intern here who spent some time scanning in important older pictures, but only a small percentage of what’s in the stacks have been catalogued. Older pictures are arranged by date in negative folders. They’re either here in the newsroom or in the attic storeroom.”
“I’m interested in photographs taken of the Children’s Day parade in 1966, but also in any photographs
that were taken that week.”
Fröken Blomberg gave him a quizzical look.
“You mean the week that Harriet Vanger disappeared?”
“You know the story?”
“You couldn’t work at the Courier your whole life without knowing about it, and when Martin Vanger calls me early in the morning on my day off, I draw my own conclusions. Has something new turned up?”
Blomberg had a nose for news. Blomkvist shook his head with a little smile and gave her his cover story.
“No, and I don’t suppose anyone will ever find the solution to that puzzle. It’s rather confidential, but
the fact is that I’m ghostwriting Henrik Vanger’s autobiography. The story of the missing girl is an odd topic, but it’s also a chapter that can’t really be ignored. I’m looking for something that hasn’t been used before that might illustrate that day—of Harriet and her friends.”
Blomberg looked dubious, but the explanation was reasonable and she was not going to question his story, given his role.
A photographer at a newspaper takes between two and ten rolls of film a day. For big events, it can be
double that. Each roll contains thirty-six negatives; so it’s not unusual for a local newspaper to accumulate over three hundred-plus images each day, of which only a very few are published. A well-organised department cuts up the rolls of film and places the negatives in six-frame sleeves. A roll takes up about one page in a negative binder. A binder holds about 110 rolls. In a year, about twenty-five binders are filled up. Over the years a huge number of binders is accumulated, which generally lack any
commercial value and overflow the shelves in the photographic department. On the other hand, every photographer and pictures department is convinced that the pictures contain a historical documentation of incalculable value, so they never throw anything away.
The Hedestad Courier was founded in 1922, and the pictures department had existed since 1937. The
Courier’s attic storeroom contained about 1,200 binders, arranged, as Blomberg said, by date. The negatives from September 1966 were kept in four cheap cardboard storage binders.
“How do we go about this?” Blomkvist said. “I really need to sit at a light table and be able to make
copies of anything that might be of interest.”
“We don’t have a darkroom any more. Everything is scanned in. Do you know how to work a negative
“Yes, I’ve worked with images and have an Agfa neg. scanner of my own. I work in PhotoShop.”
“Then you use the same equipment we do.”
Blomberg took him on a quick tour of the small office, gave him a chair at a light table, and switched on
a computer and scanner. She showed him where the coffee machine was in the canteen area. They agreed
that Blomkvist could work by himself, but that he had to call her when he wanted to leave the office so
that she could come in and set the alarm system. Then she left him with a cheerful “Have fun.”
The Courier had had two photographers back then. The one who had been on duty that day was Kurt Nylund, whom Blomkvist actually knew. Nylund was in his twenties in 1966. Then he moved to
Stockholm and became a famous photographer working both freelance and as an employee of Scanpix Sweden in Marieberg. Blomkvist had crossed paths with Kurt Nylund several times in the nineties, when
Millennium had used images from Scanpix. He remembered him as an angular man with thinning hair. On the day of the parade Nylund had used a daylight film, not too fast, one which many news photographers
Blomkvist took out the negatives of the photographs by the young Nylund and put them on the light table.
With a magnifying glass he studied them frame by frame. Reading negatives is an art form, requiring experience, which Blomkvist lacked. To determine whether the photograph contained information of value
he was going to have to scan in each image and examine it on the computer screen. That would take hours.
So first he did a quite general survey of the photographs he might be interested in.
He began by running through all the ones that had been taken of the accident. Vanger’s collection was
incomplete. The person who had copied the collection—possibly Nylund himself—had left out about thirty photographs that were either blurred or of such poor quality that they were not considered publishable.
Blomkvist switched off the Courier’s computer and plugged the Agfa scanner into his own iBook. He
spent two hours scanning in the rest of the images.
One caught his eye at once. Some time between 3:10 and 3:15 p.m., just at the time when Harriet vanished, someone had opened the window in her room. Vanger had tried in vain to find out who it was.
Blomkvist had a photograph on his screen that must have been taken at exactly the moment the window was opened. There were a figure and a face, albeit out of focus. He decided that a detailed analysis could wait until he had first scanned all the images.
Then he examined the images of the Children’s Day celebrations. Nylund had put in six rolls, around
two hundred shots. There was an endless stream of children with balloons, grown-ups, street life with hot
dog vendors, the parade itself, an artist on a stage, and an award presentation of some sort.
Blomkvist decided to scan in the entire collection. Six hours later he had a portfolio of ninety images,
but he was going to have to come back.
At 9:00 he called Blomberg, thanked her, and took the bus home to Hedeby Island.
He was back at 9:00 on Sunday morning. The offices were still empty when Blomberg let him in. He
had not realised that it was the Whitsuntide holiday weekend, and that there would not be a newspaper
until Tuesday. He spent the entire day scanning images. At 6:00 in the evening there were still forty shots left of Children’s Day. Blomkvist had inspected the negatives and decided that close-ups of cute children’s faces or pictures of a painter appearing on stage were simply not germane to his objective.
What he had scanned in was the street life and crowds.
Blomkvist spent the Whitsuntide holiday going over the new material. He made two discoveries. The first
filled him with dismay. The second made his pulse beat faster.
The first was the face in Harriet Vanger’s window. The photograph had a slight motion blur and was
thus excluded from the original set. The photographer had stood on the church hill and sighted towards the bridge. The buildings were in the background. Mikael cropped the image to include the window alone, and then he experimented with adjusting the contrast and increasing the sharpness until he achieved what
he thought was the best quality he could get.
The result was a grainy picture with a minimal greyscale that showed a curtain, part of an arm, and a
diffuse half-moon-shaped face a little way inside the room.
The face was not Harriet Vanger’s, who had raven-black hair, but a person with lighter hair colour.
It was impossible to discern clear facial features, but he was certain it was a woman; the lighter part of the face continued down to shoulder level and indicated a woman’s flowing hair, and she was wearing light-coloured clothes.
He calculated her height in relation to the window: it was a woman about five foot seven.
He clicked on to other images from behind the accident and one person fitted the description—the twenty-year-old Cecilia Vanger.
Nylund had taken eighteen shots from the window of Sundström’s Haberdashery. Harriet was in seventeen
She and her classmates had arrived at Järnvägsgatan at the same time Nylund had begun taking his pictures. Blomkvist reckoned that the photographs were shot over a period of five minutes. In the first pictures, Harriet and her friends were coming down the street into the frame. In photographs 2–7 they were standing still and watching the parade. Then they had moved about six yards down the street. In the
last picture, which may have been taken after some time had passed, the girls had gone.
Blomkvist edited a series of pictures in which he cropped the top half of Harriet and processed them to
achieve the best contrast. He put the pictures in a separate folder, opened the Graphic Converter programme, and started the slide show function. The effect was a jerky silent film in which each image
was shown for two seconds.
Harriet arrives, image in profile. Harriet stops and looks down at the street. Harriet turns her face towards the street. Harriet opens her mouth to say something to her friend. Harriet laughs. Harriet touches her ear with her left hand. Harriet smiles. Harriet suddenly looks surprised, her face at a 20° angle to the left of the camera. Harriet’s eyes widen and she has stopped smiling. Harriet’s mouth becomes a thin line.
Harriet focuses her gaze. In her face can be read . . . what? Sorrow, shock, fury? Harriet lowers her eyes.
Harriet is gone.
Blomkvist played the sequence over and over.
It confirmed with some force the theory he had formulated. Something happened on Järnvägsgatan.
She sees something—someone—on the other side of the street. She reacts with shock. She contacts
Vanger for a private conversation which never happens. She vanishes without a trace.
Something happened, but the photographs did not explain what.
At 2:00 on Tuesday morning Blomkvist had coffee and sandwiches at the kitchen bench. He was simultaneously downhearted and exhilarated. Against all expectations he had turned up new evidence.
The only problem was that although it shed light on the chain of events it brought him not one iota closer to solving the mystery.
He thought long and hard about what role Cecilia Vanger might have played in the drama. Vanger had
relentlessly charted the activities of all persons involved that day, and Cecilia had been no exception. She was living in Uppsala, but she arrived in Hedeby two days before that fateful Saturday. She stayed with
Isabella Vanger. She had said that she might possibly have seen Harriet early that morning, but that she had not spoken to her. She had driven into Hedestad on some errand. She had not seen Harriet there, and
she came back to Hedeby Island around 1:00, about the time Nylund was taking his pictures on Järnvägsgatan. She changed and at about 2:00 helped to set the table for the banquet that evening.
As an alibi—if that is what it was—it was rather feeble. The times were approximate, especially the
matter of when she had got back to Hedeby Island, but Vanger had not found anything to indicate that she
was lying. Cecilia Vanger was one of those people in the family that Vanger liked best. And she had been
his lover. How could he be objective? He certainly could not imagine her as a murderer.
Now a hitherto unknown photograph was telling him that she had lied when she said that she had never
been in Harriet’s room that day. Blomkvist wrestled with the possible significance of that.
And if you lied about that, what else did you lie about?
He went through in his mind what he knew about Cecilia. An introverted person obviously affected by
her past. Lived alone, had no sex life, had difficulty getting close to people. Kept her distance, and when she let loose there was no restraint. She chose a stranger for a lover. Had said that she ended it because she was unable to live with the idea that he would go from her life as unexpectedly as he had appeared.
Blomkvist supposed that the reason she had dared to start an affair with him was precisely that he was
only there for a while. She did not have to be afraid he would change her life in any long-term way.
He sighed and pushed the amateur psychology aside.
He made the second discovery during the night. The key to the mystery was what it was that Harriet had
seen in Hedestad. He would never find that out unless he could invent a time machine and stand behind
her, looking over her shoulder.
And then he had a thought. He slapped his forehead and opened his iBook. He clicked on to the uncropped images in the series on Järnvägsgatan and . . . there!
Behind Harriet and about a yard to her right were a young couple, the man in a striped sweater and the
woman in a pale jacket. She was holding a camera. When Blomkvist enlarged the image it looked to be a
Kodak Instamatic with flash—a cheap holiday camera for people who know nothing about photography.
The woman was holding the camera at chin level. Then she raised it and took a picture of the clowns,
just as Harriet’s expression changed.
Blomkvist compared the camera’s position with Harriet’s line of vision. The woman had taken a picture of exactly what Harriet was looking at.
His heart was beating hard. He leaned back and plucked his cigarettes out of his breast pocket.
Someone had taken a picture. How would he identify and find the woman? Could he get hold of her snapshot? Had the roll ever been developed, and if so did the prints still exist?
He opened the folder with Nylund’s photographs from the crowd. For the next couple of hours he enlarged each one and scrutinised it one square inch at a time. He did not see the couple again until the
very last pictures. Nylund had photographed another clown with balloons in his hand posing in front of his camera and laughing heartily. The photographs were taken in a car park by the entrance to the sports field where the celebration was being held. It must have been after 2:00 in the afternoon. Right after that Nylund had received the alarm about the crash on the bridge and brought his portraits of Children’s Day to a rapid close.
The woman was almost hidden, but the man in the striped sweater was clearly visible, in profile. He
had keys in his hand and was bending to open a car door. The focus was on the clown in the foreground,
and the car was a bit fuzzy. The number plate was partly hidden but he could see that it started with
Number plates in the sixties began with a code indicating the county, and as a child Blomkvist had memorised the county codes. “AC” was for Västerbotten.
Then he spotted something else. On the back window was a sticker of some sort. He zoomed in, but the
text dissolved in a blur. He cropped out the sticker and adjusted the contrast and sharpness. It took him a while. He still could not read the words, but he attempted to figure out what the letters were, based on the fuzzy shapes. Many letters looked surprisingly similar. An “O” could be mistaken for a “D,” a “B” for an
“E,” and so on. After working with a pen and paper and excluding certain letters, he was left with an unreadable text, in one line.
R JÖ NI K RIFA RIK
He stared at the image until his eyes began to water. Then he saw the text. “NORSJÖ
SNICKERIFABRIK,” followed by figures in a smaller size that were utterly impossible to read, probably
a telephone number.
Wednesday, June 11–
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