Wednesday, June 18

  1. Wednesday, February 19
  2. Wednesday, January 8
  3. Wednesday, July 2

Salander awoke with a start from a dreamless slumber. She felt faintly sick. She did not have to turn her

head to know that Mimmi had left already for work, but her scent still lingered in the stuffy air of the bedroom. Salander had drunk too many beers the night before with the Evil Fingers at the Mill. Mimmi

had turned up not long before closing time and come home with her and into bed.

Salanderunlike Mimmihad never thought of herself as a lesbian. She had never brooded over

whether she was straight, gay, or even bisexual. She did not give a damn about labels, did not see that it was anyone elses business whom she spent her nights with. If she had to choose, she preferred guysand

they were in the lead, statistically speaking. The only problem was finding a guy who was not a jerk and

one who was also good in bed; Mimmi was a sweet compromise, and she turned Salander on. They had

met in a beer tent at the Pride Festival a year ago, and Mimmi was the only person that Salander had introduced to the Evil Fingers. But it was still just a casual affair for both of them. It was nice lying close to Mimmis warm, soft body, and Salander did not mind waking up with her and their having breakfast together.

Her clock said it was 9:30, and she was wondering what could have woken her when the doorbell rang

again. She sat up in surprise. No-one had ever rung her doorbell at this hour. Very few people rang her doorbell at all. She wrapped a sheet around her and walked unsteadily to the hall to open the door. She

stared straight into the eyes of Mikael Blomkvist, felt panic race through her body, and took a step back.

Good morning, Fröken Salander, he greeted her cheerfully. It was a late night, I see. Can I come in?

Without waiting for an answer, he walked in, closing the door behind him. He regarded with curiosity

the pile of clothes on the hall floor and the rampart of bags filled with newspapers; then he peered through the bedroom door while Salanders world started spinning in the wrong direction. How? What? Who?

Blomkvist looked at her bewilderment with amusement.

I assumed that you would not have had breakfast yet, so I brought some filled bagels with me. I got one

with roast beef, one with turkey and Dijon mustard, and one vegetarian with avocado, not knowing your

preference. He marched into her kitchen and started rinsing her coffeemaker. Where do you keep coffee? he said. Salander stood in the hall as if frozen until she heard the water running out of the tap.

She took three quick strides.

Stop! Stop at once! She realised that she was shouting and lowered her voice. Damn it all, you cant

come barging in here as if you owned the place. We dont even know each other.

Blomkvist paused, holding a jug and turned to look at her.

Wrong! You know me better than almost anyone else does. Isnt that so?

He turned his back on her and poured the water into the machine. Then he started opening her cupboards in search of coffee. Speaking of which, I know how you do it. I know your secrets.

Salander shut her eyes, wishing that the floor would stop pitching under her feet. She was in a state of

mental paralysis. She was hung over. This situation was unreal, and her brain was refusing to function.

Never had she met one of her subjects face to face. He knows where I live! He was standing in her kitchen. This was impossible. It was outrageous. He knows who I am!

She felt the sheet slipping, and she pulled it tighter around her. He said something, but at first she didnt understand him. We have to talk, he said again. But I think youd better take a shower first.

She tried to speak sensibly. You listen to meif youre thinking of making trouble, Im not the one you

should be talking to. I was just doing a job. You should talk to my boss.

He held up his hands. A universal sign of peace, or I have no weapon.

Ive already talked to Armansky. By the way, he wants you to ring himyou didnt answer his call last night.

She did not sense any threat, but she still stepped back a pace when he came closer, took her arm and

escorted her to the bathroom door. She disliked having anyone touch her without her leave.

I dont want to make trouble, he said. But Im quite anxious to talk to you. After youre awake, that

is. The coffee will be ready by the time you put on some clothes. First, a shower. Vamoose!

Passively she obeyed. Lisbeth Salander is never passive, she thought.

She leaned against the bathroom door and struggled to collect her thoughts. She was more shaken than she

would have thought possible. Gradually she realised that a shower was not only good advice but a necessity after the tumult of the night. When she was done, she slipped into her bedroom and put on jeans, and a T-shirt with the slogan ARMAGEDDON WAS YESTERDAYTODAY WE HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM.

After pausing for a second, she searched through her leather jacket that was slung over a chair. She took

the taser out of the pocket, checked to see that it was loaded, and stuck it in the back pocket of her jeans.

The smell of coffee was spreading through the apartment. She took a deep breath and went back to the kitchen.

Do you never clean up? he said.

He had filled the sink with dirty dishes and ashtrays; he had put the old milk cartons into a rubbish sack and cleared the table of five weeks of newspapers; he had washed the table clean and put out mugs and

he wasnt joking after allbagels. OK, lets see where this is heading. She sat down opposite him.

You didnt answer my question. Roast beef, turkey, or vegetarian?

Roast beef.

Then Ill take the turkey.

They ate in silence, scrutinising each other. When she finished her bagel, she also ate half of the vegetarian one. She picked up a crumpled pack of cigarettes from the windowsill and dug one out.

He broke the silence. I may not be as good as you at investigations, but at least Ive found out that youre not a vegetarian oras Herr Frode thoughtanorexic. Ill include that information in my report.

Salander stared at him, but he looked so amused that she gave him a crooked smile. The situation was

beyond all rhyme or reason. She sipped her coffee. He had kind eyes. She decided that whatever else he

might be, he did not seem to be a malicious person. And there was nothing in the PI she had done that would indicate he was a vicious bastard who abused his girlfriends or anything like that. She reminded

herself that she was the one who knew everything. Knowledge is power.

What are you grinning at? she said.

Im sorry. I had not in fact planned to make my entrance in this way. I didnt mean to alarm you. But

you should have seen your face when you opened the door. It was priceless.

Silence. To her surprise, Salander found his uninvited intrusion acceptablewell, at least not unpleasant.

Youll have to think of it as my revenge for your poking around in my personal life, he said. Are you


Not the least bit, Salander said.

Good. Im not here to make trouble for you.

If you even try to hurt me Ill have to do you an injury. Youll be sorry.

Blomkvist studied her. She was barely four foot eleven and did not look as though she could put up much resistance if he were an assailant who had forced his way into her apartment. But her eyes were expressionless and calm.

Well, that wont be necessary, he said at last. I only need to talk to you. If you want me to leave, all you have to do is say so. Its funny but oh, nothing


This may sound crazy, but four days ago I didnt even know you existed. Then I read your analysis of

me. He searched through his shoulder bag and brought out the report. It was not entertaining reading.

He looked out of the kitchen window for a while. Could I bum a cigarette? She slid the pack across

the table.

You said before that we dont know each other, and I said that yes, we do. He pointed at the report. I

cant compete with you. Ive only done a rapid routine check, to get your address and date of birth, stuff like that. But you certainly know a great deal about me. Much of which is private, dammit, things that only my closest friends know. And now here I am, sitting in your kitchen and eating bagels with you. We have

known each other half an hour, but I have the feeling that weve been friends for years. Does that make

sense to you?

She nodded.

You have beautiful eyes, he said.

You have nice eyes yourself, she said.

Long silence.

Why are you here? she said.

Kalle Blomkvistshe remembered his nickname and suppressed the impulse to say it out loud

suddenly looked serious. He also looked very tired. The self-confidence that he had shown when he first

walked into her apartment was now gone. The clowning was over, or at least had been put aside. She felt

him studying her closely.

Salander felt that her composure was barely skin-deep and that she really wasnt in complete control of

her nerves. This totally unlooked-for visit had shaken her in a way that she had never experienced in connection with her work. Her bread and butter was spying on people. In fact she had never thought of

what she did for Armansky as a real job; she thought of it more as a complicated pastime, a sort of hobby.

The truth was that she enjoyed digging into the lives of other people and exposing the secrets they were

trying to hide. She had been doing it, in one form or another, for as long as she could remember. And she

was still doing it today, not only when Armansky gave her an assignment, but sometimes for the sheer fun

of it. It gave her a kick. It was like a complicated computer game, except that it dealt with real live people. And now one of her hobbies was sitting right here in her kitchen, feeding her bagels. It was totally absurd.

I have a fascinating problem, Blomkvist said. Tell me this, when you were doing your research on

me for Herr Frode, did you have any idea what it was going to be used for?


The purpose was to find out all that information about me because Frode, or rather his employer, wanted to give me a freelance job.

I see.

He gave her a faint smile.

One of these days you and I should have a discussion about the ethics of snooping into other peoples

lives. But right now I have a different problem. The job I was offered, and which inexplicably I agreed to do, is without doubt the most bizarre assignment Ive ever undertaken. Before I say more I need to be able to trust you, Lisbeth.

What do you mean?

Armansky tells me youre 100 percent reliable. But I still want to ask you the question. Can I tell you

confidential things without your telling them to anyone else, by any means, ever?

Wait a minute. Youve talked to Dragan? Is he the one who sent you here? Im going to kill you, you

fucking stupid Armenian.

Not exactly. Youre not the only one who can find out someones address; I did that all on my own. I

looked you up in the national registry. There are three Lisbeth Salanders, and the other two werent a good match. But I had a long talk with Armansky yesterday. He too thought that I wanted to make trouble

over your ferreting around in my private life. In the end I convinced him that I had a legitimate purpose.

Which is what?

As I told you, Frodes employer hired me to do a job. Ive reached a point where I need a skilled researcher. Frode told me about you and said that you were pretty good. He hadnt meant to identify you,

it just slipped out. I explained to Armansky what I wanted. He OKd the whole thing and tried to call you.

And here I am. Call him if you want.

It took Salander a minute to find her mobile among the clothes that Mimmi had pulled off her.

Blomkvist watched her embarrassed search with interest as he patrolled the apartment. All her furniture

seemed to be strays. She had a state-of-the-art PowerBook on an apology for a desk in the living room.

She had a CD player on a shelf. Her CD collection was a pitiful total of ten CDs by groups he had never

heard of, and the musicians on the covers looked like vampires from outer space. Music was probably not

her big interest.

Salander saw that Armansky had called her seven times the night before and twice this morning. She

punched in his number while Blomkvist leaned against the door frame and listened to the conversation.

Its me sorry yes it was turned off I know, he wants to hire me no, hes standing in the

middle of my fucking living room, for Christs sake She raised her voice. Dragan, Im hung over and

my head hurts, so please, no games, did you OK this job or not? Thanks.

Salander looked through the door to the living room at Blomkvist pulling out CDs and taking books off

the bookshelf. He had just found a brown pill bottle that was missing its label, and he was holding it up to the light. He was about to unscrew the top, so she reached out and took the bottle from him. She went back to the kitchen and sat down on a chair, massaging her forehead until he joined her.

The rules are simple, she said. Nothing that you discuss with me or with Armansky will be shared

with anyone at all. There will be a contract which states that Milton Security pledges confidentiality. I want to know what the job is about before I decide whether I want to work for you or not. That also means that I agree to keep to myself everything you tell me, whether I take the job or not, provided that

youre not conducting any sort of serious criminal activity. In which case, Ill report it to Dragan, who in turn will report it to the police.

Fine. He hesitated. Armansky may not be completely aware of what I want to hire you for

Some historical research, he said.

Well, yes, thats right. I want you to help me to identify a murderer.

It took Blomkvist an hour to explain all the intricate details in the Harriet Vanger case. He left nothing out.

He had Frodes permission to hire her, and to do that he had to be able to trust her completely.

He told her everything about Cecilia Vanger and that he had found her face in Harriets window. He gave Salander as good a description of her character as he could. She had moved high up on the list of

suspects, his list. But he was still far from believing that she could be in any way associated with a murderer who was active when she was still a young woman.

He gave Salander a copy of the list in the date book: Magda32016; Sara32109; R.J.30112;

R.L.32027; Mari32018. And he gave her a copy of the verses from Leviticus.

What do you want me to do?

Ive identified the R.J., Rebecka Jacobsson. He told her what the five-figure numbers stood for. If

Im right, then were going to find four more victimsMagda, Sara, Mari, and R.L.

You think theyre all murdered?

What I think is that we are looking for someone whoif the other numbers and initials also prove to

be shorthand for four more killingsis a murderer who was active in the fifties and maybe also in the sixties. And who is in some way linked to Harriet Vanger. Ive gone through back issues of the Hedestad Courier. Rebeckas murder is the only grotesque crime that I could find with a connection to Hedestad. I want you to keep digging, all over Sweden if necessary, until you make sense of the other names and verses.

Salander thought in expressionless silence for such a long time that Blomkvist began to grow impatient.

He was wondering whether he had chosen the wrong person when she at last raised her head.

Ill take the job. But first you have to sign a contract with Armansky.

Armansky printed out the contract that Blomkvist would take back to Hedestad for Frodes signature.

When he returned to Salanders office, he saw how she and Blomkvist were leaning over her PowerBook.

He had his hand on her shoulder he was touching herand pointing. Armansky paused in the corridor.

Blomkvist said something that seemed to surprise Salander. Then she laughed out loud.

Armansky had never once heard her laugh before, and for years he had been trying to win her trust.

Blomkvist had known her for five minutes and she was practically giggling with him. He felt such a loathing for Blomkvist at that moment that he surprised himself. He cleared his throat as he stood in the

doorway and put down the folder with the contract.

Blomkvist paid a quick visit to the Millennium office in the afternoon. It was his first time back. It felt very odd to be running up those familiar stairs. They had not changed the code on the door, and he was

able to slip in unnoticed and stand for a moment, looking around.

Millenniums offices were arranged in an L shape. The entry was a hall that took up a lot of space without being able to be put to much use. There were two sofas there, so it was by way of being a reception area. Beyond was a lunchroom kitchenette, then cloakroom/toilets, and two storage rooms with

bookshelves and filing cabinets. There was also a desk for an intern. To the right of the entry was the glass wall of Malms studio, which took up about 500 square feet, with its own entrance from the landing.

To the left was the editorial office, encompassing about 350 square feet, with the windows facing Götgatan.

Berger had designed everything, putting in glass partitions to make separate quarters for three of the employees and an open plan for the others. She had taken the largest room at the very back for herself, and given Blomkvist his own room at the opposite end. It was the only room that you could look into from the

entry. No-one had moved into it, it seemed.

The third room was slightly apart from the others, and it was occupied by Sonny Magnusson, who had

been for several years Millenniums most successful advertising salesman. Berger had handpicked him; she offered him a modest salary and a commission. Over the past year, it had not made any difference how

energetic he was as a salesman, their advertising income had taken a beating and Magnussons income with it. But instead of looking elsewhere, he had tightened his belt and loyally stayed put. Unlike me, who caused the whole landslide, Blomkvist thought.

He gathered his courage and walked into the office. It was almost deserted. He could see Berger at her

desk, telephone pressed to her ear. Monika Nilsson was at her desk, an experienced general reporter specialising in political coverage; she could be the most jaded cynic he had ever met. Shed been at Millennium for nine years and was thriving. Henry Cortez was the youngest employee on the editorial staff. He had come as an intern straight out of JMK two years ago, saying that he wanted to work at Millennium and nowhere else. Berger had no budget to hire him, but she offered him a desk in a corner and soon took him on as a permanent dogsbody, and anon as a staff reporter.

Both uttered cries of delight. He received kisses on the cheek and pats on the back. At once they asked

him if he was returning to work. No, he had just stopped by to say hello and have a word with the boss.

Berger was glad to see him. She asked about Vangers condition. Blomkvist knew no more than what

Frode could tell him: his condition was inescapably serious.

So what are you doing in the city?

Blomkvist was embarrassed. He had been at Milton Security, only a few streets away, and he had decided on sheer impulse to come in. It seemed too complicated to explain that he had been there to hire a research assistant who was a security consultant who had hacked into his computer. Instead he shrugged

and said he had come to Stockholm on Vanger-related business, and he would have to go back north at once. He asked how things were going at the magazine.

Apart from the good news on the advertising and the subscription fronts, there is one cloud on the horizon.

Which is?

Janne Dahlman.

Of course.

I had a talk with him in April, after we released the news that Henrik had become a partner. I dont

know if its just Jannes nature to be negative or if theres something more serious going on, if hes playing some sort of game.

What happened?

Its nothing I can put a finger on, rather that I no longer trust him. After we signed the agreement with Vanger, Christer and I had to decide whether to inform the whole staff that we were no longer at risk of

going under this autumn, or

Or to tell just a chosen few.

Exactly. I may be paranoid, but I didnt want to risk having Dahlman leak the story. So we decided to

inform the whole staff on the same day the agreement was made public. Which meant that we kept the lid

on it for over a month.


Well, that was the first piece of good news theyd had in a year. Everyone cheered except for Dahlman. I meanwe dont have the worlds biggest editorial staff. There were three people cheering,

plus the intern, and one person who got his nose out of joint because we hadnt told everybody earlier.

He had a point

I know. But the thing is, he kept on bitching about the issue day after day, and morale in the office was affected. After two weeks of this shit I called him into my office and told him to his face that my reason for not having informed the staff earlier was that I didnt trust him to keep the news secret.

How did he take it?

He was terribly upset, of course. I stood my ground and gave him an ultimatumeither he had to pull

himself together or start looking for another job.


He pulled himself together. But he keeps to himself, and theres a tension between him and the others.

Christer cant stand him, and he doesnt hide it.

What do you suspect Dahlman of doing?

I dont know. We hired him a year ago, when we were first talking about trouble with Wennerström. I

cant prove a thing, but I have a nasty feeling that hes not working for us.

Trust your instincts.

Maybe hes just a square peg in a round hole who just happens to be poisoning the atmosphere.

Its possible. But I agree that we made a mistake when we hired him.

Half an hour later he was on his way north across the locks at Slussen in the car he had borrowed from

Frodes wife. It was a ten-year-old Volvo she never used. Blomkvist had been given leave to borrow it

whenever he liked.

It was the tiny details that he could easily have missed if he had not been alert: some papers not as evenly stacked as he remembered; a binder not quite flush on the shelf; his desk drawer closed all the wayhe

was positive that it was an inch open when he left.

Someone had been inside his cottage.

He had locked the door, but it was an ordinary old lock that almost anyone could pick with a screwdriver, and who knew how many keys were in circulation. He systematically searched his office, looking for what might be missing. After a while he decided that everything was still there.

Nevertheless someone had been in the cottage and gone through his papers and binders. He had taken

his computer with him, so they had not been able to access that. Two questions arose: who was it? and

how much had his visitor been able to find out?

The binders belonged to the part of Vangers collection that he brought back to the guest house after returning from prison. There was nothing of the new material in them. His notebooks in the desk would

read like code to the uninitiatedbut was the person who had searched his desk uninitiated?

In a plastic folder on the middle of the desk he had put a copy of the date book list and a copy of the

verses. That was serious. It would tell whoever it was that the date book code was cracked.

So who was it?

Vanger was in the hospital. He did not suspect Anna. Frode? He had already told him all the details.

Cecilia Vanger had cancelled her trip to Florida and was back from Londonalong with her sister.

Blomkvist had only seen her once, driving her car across the bridge the day before. Martin Vanger. Harald

Vanger. Birger Vangerhe had turned up for a family gathering to which Blomkvist had not been invited

on the day after Vangers heart attack. Alexander Vanger. Isabella Vanger.

Whom had Frode talked to? What might he have let slip this time? How many of the anxious relatives

had picked up on the fact that Blomkvist had made a breakthrough in his investigation?

It was after 8:00. He called the locksmith in Hedestad and ordered a new lock. The locksmith said that

he could come out the following day. Blomkvist said he would pay double if he came at once. They agreed that he would come at around 10:30 that night and install a new deadbolt lock.

Blomkvist drove to Frodes house. His wife showed him into the garden behind the house and offered him

a cold Pilsner, which he gratefully accepted. He asked how Henrik Vanger was.

Frode shook his head.

They operated on him. He had blockages in his coronary arteries. The doctors say that the next few

days are critical.

They thought about this for a while as they drank their Pilsners.

You havent talked to him, I suppose?

No. Hes not well enough to talk. How did it go in Stockholm?

The Salander girl accepted the job. Heres the contract from Milton Security. You have to sign it and

put it in the post.

Frode read through the document.

Shes expensive, he said.

Henrik can afford it.

Frode nodded. He took a pen out of his breast pocket and scrawled his name.

Its a good thing that Im signing it while hes still alive. Could you put it in the letter box at Konsum on your way home?

Blomkvist was in bed by midnight, but he could not sleep. Until now his work on Hedeby Island had seemed like research on a historical curiosity. But if someone was sufficiently interested in what he was

doing to break into his office, then the solution had to be closer to the present than he had thought.

Then it occurred to him that there were others who might be interested in what he was working on.

Vangers sudden appearance on the board of Millennium had not gone unnoticed by Wennerström. Or was this paranoia?

Mikael got out of bed and went to stand naked at the kitchen window, gazing at the church on the other

side of the bridge. He lit a cigarette.

He couldnt figure out Lisbeth Salander. She was altogether odd. Long pauses in the middle of the conversation. Her apartment was messy, bordering on chaotic. Bags filled with news papers in the hall. A

kitchen that had not been cleaned or tidied in years. Clothes were scattered in heaps on the floor. She had obviously spent half the night in a bar. She had love bites on her neck and she had clearly had company

overnight. She had heaven knows how many tattoos and two piercings on her face and maybe in other places. She was weird.

Armansky assured him that she was their very best researcher, and her report on him was excruciatingly

thorough. A strange girl.

Salander was sitting at her PowerBook, but she was thinking about Mikael Blomkvist. She had never in

her adult life allowed anyone to cross her threshold without an express invitation, and she could count those she had invited on one hand. Blomkvist had nonchalantly barged into her life, and she had uttered

only a few lame protests.

Not only that, he had teased her.

Under normal circumstances that sort of behaviour would have made her mentally cock a pistol. But she had not felt an iota of threat or any sort of hostility from his side. He had good reason to read her the riot act, even report her to the police. Instead he had treated even her hacking into his computer as a joke.

That had been the most sensitive part of their conversation. Blomkvist seemed to be deliberately not broaching the subject, and finally she could not help asking the question.

You said that you knew what I did.

Youve been inside my computer. Youre a hacker.

How do you know that? Salander was absolutely positive that she had left no traces and that her trespassing could not be discovered by anyone unless a top security consultant sat down and scanned the

hard drive at the same time as she was accessing the computer.

You made a mistake.

She had quoted from a text that was only on his computer.

Salander sat in silence. Finally she looked up at him, her eyes expressionless.

How did you do it? he asked.

My secret. What are you thinking of doing about it?

Mikael shrugged.

What can I do?

Its exactly what you do as a journalist.

Of course. And thats why we journalists have an ethics committee that keeps track of the moral issues. When I write an article about some bastard in the banking industry, I leave out, for instance, his or her private life. I dont say that a forger is a lesbian or gets turned on by having sex with her dog or anything like that, even if it happens to be true. Bastards too have a right to their private lives. Does that make sense?


So you encroached on my integrity. My employer doesnt need to know who I have sex with. Thats

my business.

Salanders face was creased by a crooked smile.

You think I shouldnt have mentioned that?

In my case it didnt make a lot of difference. Half the city knows about my relationship with Erika. But

its a matter of principle.

In that case, it might amuse you to know that I also have principles comparable to your ethics committees. I call them Salanders Principles. One of them is that a bastard is always a bastard, and if I can hurt a bastard by digging up shit about him, then he deserves it.

OK, Blomkvist said. My reasoning isnt too different from yours, but

But the thing is that when I do a PI, I also look at what I think about the person. Im not neutral. If the person seems like a good sort, I might tone down my report.


In your case I toned it down. I could have written a book about your sex life. I could have mentioned

to Frode that Erika Berger has a past in Club Xtreme and played around with BDSM in the eighties

which would have prompted certain unavoidable notions about your sex life and hers.

Blomkvist met Salanders gaze. After a moment he laughed.

Youre really meticulous, arent you? Why didnt you put it in the report?

You are adults who obviously like each other. What you do in bed is nobodys business, and the only

thing I would have achieved by talking about her was to hurt both of you, or to provide someone with blackmail material. I dont know Frodethe information could have ended up with Wennerström.

And you dont want to provide Wennerström with information?

If I had to choose between you and him, Id probably end up in your court.

Erika and I have a our relationship is

Please, I really dont give a toss about what sort of relationship you have. But you havent answered

my question: what do you plan to do about my hacking into your computer?

Lisbeth, Im not here to blackmail you. Im here to ask you to help me do some research. You can say

yes or no. If you say no, fine, Ill find someone else and youll never hear from me again.


Thursday, June 19

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