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Sunday, June 29
While he waited for word on whether Vanger was going to pull through or not, Blomkvist spent the days
going over his materials. He kept in close touch with Frode. On Thursday evening Frode brought him the
news that the immediate crisis seemed to be over.
“I was able to talk to him for a while today. He wants to see you as soon as possible.”
So it was that, around 1:00 on the afternoon of Midsummer Eve, Blomkvist drove to Hedestad Hospital
and went in search of the ward. He encountered an angry Birger Vanger, who blocked his way. Henrik could not possibly receive visitors, he said.
“That’s odd,” Blomkvist said, “Henrik sent word saying that he expressly wanted to see me today.”
“You’re not a member of the family; you have no business here.”
“You’re right. I’m not a member of the family. But I’m working for Henrik Vanger, and I take orders only from him.”
This might have led to a heated exchange if Frode had not at that moment come out of Vanger’s room.
“Oh, there you are. Henrik has been asking after you.”
Frode held open the door and Blomkvist walked past Birger into the room.
Vanger looked to have aged ten years. He was lying with his eyes half closed, an oxygen tube in his nose, and his hair more dishevelled than ever. A nurse stopped Blomkvist, putting a hand firmly on his arm.
“Two minutes. No more. And don’t upset him.” Blomkvist sat on a visitor’s chair so that he could see
Vanger’s face. He felt a tenderness that astonished him, and he stretched out his hand to gently squeeze the old man’s hand.
“Any news?” The voice was weak.
“I’ll give you a report as soon as you’re better. I haven’t solved the mystery yet, but I’ve found more
new stuff and I’m following up a number of leads. In a week, perhaps two, I’ll be able to tell the results.”
The most Vanger could manage was to blink, indicating that he understood.
“I have to be away for a few days.”
Henrik raised his eyebrows.
“I’m not jumping ship. I have some research to do. I’ve reached an agreement with Dirch that I should
report to him. Is that OK with you?”
“Dirch is … my man … in all matters.”
Blomkvist squeezed Vanger’s hand again.
“Mikael … if I don’t … I want you to … finish the job.”
“I will finish the job.”
“Dirch has … full …”
“Henrik, I want you to get better. I’d be furious with you if you went and died after I’ve made such progress.”
“Two minutes,” the nurse said.
“Next time we’ll have a long talk.”
Birger Vanger was waiting for him when he came out. He stopped him by laying a hand on his shoulder.
“I don’t want you bothering Henrik any more. He’s very ill, and he’s not supposed to be upset or disturbed.”
“I understand your concern, and I sympathise. And I’m not going to upset him.”
“Everyone knows that Henrik hired you to poke around in his little hobby … Harriet. Dirch said that
Henrik became very upset after a conversation you had with him before he had the heart attack. He even
said that you thought you had caused the attack.”
“I don’t think so any more. Henrik had severe blockages in his arteries. He could have had a heart attack just by having a pee. I’m sure you know that by now.”
“I want full disclosure into this lunacy. This is my family you’re mucking around in.”
“I told you, I work for Henrik, not for the family.”
Birger Vanger was apparently not used to having anyone stand up to him. For a moment he stared at Blomkvist with an expression that was presumably meant to instil respect, but which made him look more
like an inflated moose. Birger turned and went into Vanger’s room.
Blomkvist restrained the urge to laugh. This was no place for laughter, in the corridor outside Vanger’s
sickbed, which might also turn out to be his deathbed. But he thought of a verse from Lennart Hyland’s rhyming alphabet. It was the letter M. And all alone the moose he stood, laughing in a shot-up wood.
In the hospital lobby he ran into Cecilia Vanger. He had tried calling her mobile a dozen times since she
came back from her interrupted holiday, but she had never answered or returned his calls. And she was
never home at her place on Hedeby Island whenever he walked past and knocked on the door.
“Hi, Cecilia,” he said. “I’m so sorry about all this with Henrik.”
“Thanks,” she said.
“We need to talk.”
“I’m sorry that I’ve shut you out like this. I can understand that you must be cross, but I’m not having an easy time of it these days.”
Mikael put his hand on her arm and smiled at her.
“Wait, you’ve got it wrong, Cecilia. I’m not cross at all. I am still hoping that we can be friends. Can
we have a cup of coffee?” He nodded in the direction of the hospital cafeteria.
Cecilia Vanger hesitated. “Not today. I need to go and see Henrik.”
“OK, but I still need to talk to you. It’s purely professional.”
“What does that mean?” She was suddenly alert.
“Do you remember the first time we met, when you came to the cottage in January? I said that we were
talking off the record, and that if I needed to ask you any real questions, I would tell you. It has to do with Harriet.”
Cecilia Vanger’s face was suddenly flushed with anger.
“You really are the fucking pits.”
“Cecilia, I’ve found some things that I really do have to talk to you about.”
She took a step away from him.
“Don’t you realise that this bloody hunt for that cursed Harriet is just occupational therapy for Henrik?
Don’t you see that he might be up there dying, and that the very last thing he needs is to get upset again and be filled with false hopes and …”
“It may be a hobby for Henrik, but there is now more material to go on than anyone has had to work
with in a very long time. There are questions that do now need to be answered.”
“If Henrik dies, that investigation is going to be over awfully damned fast. Then you’ll be out on your
grubby, snivelling investigative backside,” Cecilia said, and she walked away.
Everything was closed. Hedestad was practically deserted, and the inhabitants seemed to have retreated
to their Midsummer poles at their summer cottages. Blomkvist made for the Stadshotel terrace, which was
actually open, and there he was able to order coffee and a sandwich and read the evening papers. Nothing
of importance was happening in the world.
He put the paper down and thought about Cecilia Vanger. He had told no-one—apart from the Salander
girl—that she was the one who had opened the window in Harriet’s room. He was afraid that it would
make her a suspect, and the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her. But the question was going to have to be asked, sooner or later.
He sat on the terrace for an hour before he decided to set the whole problem aside and devote Midsummer Eve to something other than the Vanger family. His mobile was silent. Berger was away amusing herself somewhere with her husband, and he had no-one to talk to.
He went back to Hedeby Island at around 4:00 in the afternoon and made another decision—to stop smoking. He had been working out regularly ever since he did his military service, both at the gym and by
running along Söder Mälarstrand, but had fallen out of the habit when the problems with Wennerström began. It was at Rullåker Prison that he had started pumping iron again, mostly as therapy. But since his
release he had taken almost no exercise. It was time to start again. He put on his tracksuit and set off at a lazy pace along the road to Gottfried’s cabin, turned off towards the Fortress, and took a rougher course
cross country. He had done no orienteering since he was in the military, but he had always thought it was
more fun to run through a wooded terrain than on a flat track. He followed the fence around Östergården
back to the village. He was aching all over and out of breath by the time he took the last steps up to the guest house.
At 6:00 he took a shower. He boiled some potatoes and had open sandwiches of pickled herring in mustard sauce with chives and egg on a rickety table outside the cottage, facing the bridge. He poured himself a shot of aquavit and drank a toast to himself. After that he opened a crime novel by Val McDermid entitled The Mermaids Singing.
At around 7:00 Frode drove up and sat heavily in the chair across from him. Blomkvist poured him a shot
of Skåne aquavit.
“You stirred up some rather lively emotions today,” Frode said.
“I could see that.”
“Birger is a conceited fool.”
“I know that.”
“But Cecilia is not a conceited fool, and she’s furious.”
“She has instructed me to see that you stop poking around in the family’s affairs.”
“I see. And what did you say to her?”
Frode looked at his glass of Skåne and downed the liquor in one gulp.
“My response was that Henrik has given me clear instructions about what he wants you to do. As long
as he doesn’t change those instructions, you will continue to be employed under the terms of your contract.
I expect you to do your best to fulfil your part of the contract.”
Blomkvist looked up at the sky, where rain clouds had begun to gather.
“Looks like a storm is brewing,” Frode said. “If the winds get too strong, I’ll have to back you up.”
They sat in silence for a while.
“Could I have another drink?”
Only minutes after Frode had gone home, Martin Vanger drove up and parked his car by the road in front
of the cottage. He came over and said hello. Mikael wished him a happy Midsummer and asked if he’d
like a drink.
“No, it’s better if I don’t. I’m just here to change my clothes and then I’m going to drive back to town to spend the evening with Eva.”
“I’ve talked to Cecilia. She’s a little traumatised just now—she and Henrik have always been close. I
hope you’ll forgive her if she says anything . . . unpleasant.”
“I’m very fond of Cecilia.”
“I know that. But she can be difficult. I just want you to know that she’s very much against your going
on digging into our past.”
Blomkvist sighed. Everyone in Hedestad seemed to know why Vanger had hired him.
“What’s your feeling?”
“This thing with Harriet has been Henrik’s obsession for decades. I don’t know . . . Harriet was my sister, but somehow it feels all so far away. Dirch says that you have a contract that only Henrik can break, and I’m afraid that in his present condition it would do more harm than good.”
“So you want me to continue?”
“Have you made any progress?”
“I’m sorry, Martin, but it would be a breach of that contract if I told you anything without Henrik’s permission.”
“I understand.” Suddenly he smiled. “Henrik is a bit of a conspiracy fanatic. But above all, I don’t want
you to get his hopes up unnecessarily.”
“I won’t do that.”
“Good . . . By the way, to change the subject, we now have another contract to consider as well. Given
that Henrik is ill and can’t in the short term fulfil his obligations on the Millennium board, it’s my responsibility to take his place.”
“I suppose we should have a board meeting to look at the situation.”
“That’s a good idea. But as far as I know, it’s been decided that the next board meeting won’t be held
“I know that, but maybe we should hold it earlier.”
Blomkvist smiled politely.
“You’re really talking to the wrong person. At the moment I’m not on the board. I left in December. You
should get in touch with Erika Berger. She knows that Henrik has been taken ill.”
Martin Vanger had not expected this response.
“You’re right, of course. I’ll talk to her.” He patted Blomkvist on the shoulder to say goodbye and was
Nothing concrete had been said, but the threat hung in the air. Martin Vanger had set Millennium on the balance tray. After a moment Blomkvist poured himself another drink and picked up his Val McDermid.
The mottled brown cat came to say hello and rubbed on his leg. He lifted her up and scratched behind
“The two of us are having a very boring Midsummer Eve, aren’t we?” he said.
When it started to rain, he went inside and went to bed. The cat preferred to stay outdoors.
Salander got out her Kawasaki on Midsummer Eve and spent the day giving it a good overhaul. A lightweight 125cc might not be the toughest bike in the world, but it was hers, and she could handle it. She had restored it, one nut at a time, and she had souped it up just a bit over the legal limit.
In the afternoon she put on her helmet and leather suit and drove to Äppelviken Nursing Home, where
she spent the evening in the park with her mother. She felt a pang of concern and guilt. Her mother seemed more remote than ever before. During three hours they exchanged only a few words, and when they did
speak, her mother did not seem to know who she was talking to.
Blomkvist wasted several days trying to identify the car with the AC plates. After a lot of trouble and finally by consulting a retired mechanic in Hedestad, he came to the conclusion that the car was a Ford
Anglia, a model that he had never heard of before. Then he contacted a clerk at the motor vehicle department and enquired about the possibility of getting a list of all the Ford Anglias in 1966 that had a licence plate beginning AC3. He was eventually told that such an archaeological excavation in the records presumably could be done, but that it would take time and it was beyond the boundaries of what
could be considered public information.
Not until several days after Midsummer did Blomkvist get into his borrowed Volvo and drive north on
the E4. He drove at a leisurely pace. Just short of the Härnösand Bridge he stopped to have coffee at the
Vesterlund pastry shop.
The next stop was Umeå, where he pulled into an inn and had the daily special. He bought a road atlas
and continued on to Skellefteå, where he turned towards Norsjö. He arrived around 6:00 in the evening
and took a room in the Hotel Norsjö.
He began his search early the next morning. The Norsjö Carpentry Shop was not in the telephone book.
The Polar Hotel desk clerk, a girl in her twenties, had never heard of the business.
“Who should I ask?”
The clerk looked puzzled for a few seconds until her face lit up and she said that she would call her
father. Two minutes later she came back and explained that the Norsjö Carpentry Shop closed in the early
eighties. If he needed to talk to someone who knew more about the business, he should go and see a certain Burman, who had been the foreman and who now lived on a street called Solvändan.
Norsjö was a small town with one main street, appropriately enough called Storgatan, that ran through
the whole community. It was lined with shops with residential side streets off it. At the east end there was a small industrial area and a stable; at the western end stood an uncommonly beautiful wooden church.
Blomkvist noted that the village also had a Missionary church and a Pentecostal church. A poster on a bulletin board at the bus station advertised a hunting museum and a skiing museum. A leftover flyer announced that Veronika would sing at the fairgrounds at Midsummer. He could walk from one end of the
village to the other in less than twenty minutes.
The street called Solvändan consisted of single-family homes and was about five minutes from the hotel. There was no answer when Blomkvist rang the bell. It was 9:30, and he assumed that Burman had
left for work or, if he was retired, was out on an errand.
His next stop was the hardware store on Storgatan. He reasoned that anyone living in Norsjö would sooner or later pay a visit to the hardware store. There were two sales clerks in the shop. Blomkvist chose the older one, maybe fifty or so.
“Hi. I’m looking for a couple who probably lived in Norsjö in the sixties. The man might have worked
for the Norsjö Carpentry Shop. I don’t know their name, but I have two pictures that were taken in 1966.”
The clerk studied the photographs for a long time but finally shook his head, saying he could not recognise either the man or the woman.
At lunchtime he had a burger at a hot-dog stand near the bus station. He had given up on the shops and
had made his way through the municipal office, the library, and the pharmacy. The police station was empty, and he had started approaching older people at random. Early in the afternoon he asked two young
women: they did not recognise the couple in the photographs, but they did have a good idea.
“If the pictures were taken in 1966, the people would have to be in their sixties today. Why don’t you
go over to the retirement home on Solbacka and ask there?”
Blomkvist introduced himself to a woman at the front desk of the retirement home, explaining what he
wanted to know. She glared at him suspiciously but finally allowed herself to be persuaded. She led him
to the day room, where he spent half an hour showing the pictures to a group of elderly people. They were
very helpful, but none of them could identify the couple.
At 5:00 he went back to Solvändan and knocked on Burman’s door. This time he had better luck. The
Burmans, both the man and the wife, were retired, and they had been out all day. They invited Blomkvist
into their kitchen, where his wife promptly made coffee while Mikael explained his errand. As with all
his other attempts that day, he again drew a blank. Burman scratched his head, lit a pipe, and then concluded after a moment that he did not recognise the couple in the photographs. The Burmans spoke in a
distinct Norsjö dialect to each other, and Blomkvist occasionally had difficulty understanding what they
were saying. The wife meant “curly hair” when she remarked that the woman in the picture had knövelhära.
“But you’re quite right that it’s a sticker from the carpentry shop,” her husband said. “That was clever
of you to recognise it. But the problem was that we handed out those stickers left and right. To contractors, people who bought or delivered timber, joiners, machinists, all sorts.”
“It’s turning out to be harder to find this couple than I thought.”
“Why do you want to find them?”
Blomkvist had decided to tell the truth if anyone asked him. Any attempt to make up a story about the
couple in the pictures would just sound false and create confusion.
“It’s a long story. I’m investigating a crime that occurred in Hedestad in 1966, and I think there’s a possibility, although a very small one, that the people in the photographs might have seen what happened.
They’re not in any way under suspicion, and I don’t think they’re even aware that they might have information that could solve the crime.”
“A crime? What kind of crime?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you any more than that. I know it sounds bizarre that someone would come
here almost forty years later, trying to find this couple, but the crime is still unsolved, and it’s only lately that new facts have come to light.”
“I see. Yes, this is certainly an unusual assignment that you’re on.”
“How many people worked at the carpentry shop?”
“The normal work force was forty or so. I worked there from the age of seventeen in the mid-fifties until the shop closed. Then I became a contractor.” Burman thought for a moment. “This much I can tell
you. The guy in your pictures never worked there. He might have been a contractor, but I think I’d recognise him if he was. But there is one other possibility. Maybe his father or some other relative worked at the shop and that’s not his car.”
Mikael nodded. “I realise there are lots of possibilities. Can you suggest anyone I could talk to?”
“Yes,” said Burman, nodding. “Come by tomorrow morning and we’ll go and have a talk with some of
the old guys.”
Salander was facing a methodology problem of some significance. She was an expert at digging up information on just about anybody, but her starting point had always been a name and a social security number for a living person. If the individual was listed in a computer file, which everyone inevitably was, then the subject quickly landed in her spider’s web. If the individual owned a computer with an Internet
connection, an email address, and maybe even a personal website, which nearly everyone did who came
under her special type of research, she could sooner or later find out their innermost secrets.
The work she had agreed to do for Blomkvist was altogether different. This assignment, in simple terms, was to identify four social security numbers based on extremely vague data. In addition, these individuals most likely died several decades ago. So probably they would not be on any computer files.
Blomkvist’s theory, based on the Rebecka Jacobsson case, was that these individuals had fallen victim
to a murderer. This meant that they should be found in various unsolved police investigations. There was
no clue as to when or where these murders had taken place, except that it had to be before 1966. In terms
of research, she was facing a whole new situation.
So, how do I go about this?
She pulled up the Google search engine, and typed in the keywords [Magda] + [murder]. That was the
simplest form of research she could do. To her surprise, she made an instant breakthrough in the investigation. Her first hit was the programme listings for TV Värmland in Karlstad, advertising a segment in the series “Värmland Murders” that was broadcast in 1999. After that she found a brief mention in a TV listing in Värmlands Folkblad.
In the series “Värmland Murders” the focus now turns to Magda Lovisa Sjöberg in Ranmoträsk, a gruesome murder mystery that occupied the Karlstad police several decades ago. In April 1960, the
46-year-old farmer’s wife was found murdered in the family’s barn. The reporter Claes Gunnars describes the last hours of her life and the fruitless search for the killer. The murder caused a great
stir at the time, and many theories have been presented about who the guilty party was. A young relative will appear on the show to talk about how his life was destroyed when he was accused of
the murder. 8:00 p.m.
She found more substantial information in the article “The Lovisa Case Shook the Whole Countryside,”
which was published in the magazine Värmlandskultur. All of the magazine’s texts had been loaded on to the Net. Written with obvious glee and in a chatty and titillating tone, the article described how Lovisa
Sjöberg’s husband, the lumberjack Holger Sjöberg, had found his wife dead when he came home from work around 5:00. She had been subjected to gross sexual assault, stabbed, and finally murdered with the
prongs of a pitchfork. The murder occurred in the family barn, but what aroused the most attention was the fact that the perpetrator, after committing the murder, had tied her up in a kneeling position inside a horse stall.
It was later discovered that one of the animals on the farm, a cow, had suffered a stab wound on the
side of its neck.
Initially the husband was suspected of the murder, but he had been in the company of his work colleagues from 6:00 in the morning at a clearing twenty-five miles from his home. It could be verified
that Lovisa Sjöberg had been alive as late as 10:00 in the morning, when she had a visit from a woman
friend. No-one had seen or heard anything; the farm was five hundred yards from its nearest neighbour.
After dropping the husband as a suspect, the police investigation focused on the victim’s twenty-three-
year-old nephew. He had repeatedly fallen foul of the law, was extremely short of cash, and many times
had borrowed small sums from his aunt. The nephew’s alibi was significantly weaker, and he was taken
into custody for a while, but released for lack of evidence. Even so, many people in the village thought it highly probable that he was guilty.
The police followed another lead. A part of the investigation concerned the search for a pedlar who was seen in the area; there was also a rumour that a group of “thieving gypsies” had carried out a series
of raids. Why they should have committed a savage, sexually related murder without stealing anything was
For a time suspicion was directed at a neighbour in the village, a bachelor who in his youth was suspected of an allegedly homosexual crime—this was back when homosexuality was still a punishable
offence—and according to several statements, he had a reputation for being “odd.” Why someone who was supposedly homosexual would commit a sex crime against a woman was not explained either. None
of these leads, or any others, led to a charge.
Salander thought there was a clear link to the list in Harriet Vanger’s date book. Leviticus 20:16 said:
“If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall
be put to death, their blood is upon them.” It couldn’t be a coincidence that a farmer’s wife by the name of Magda had been found murdered in a barn, with her body so arranged and tied up in a horse stall.
The question was why had Harriet Vanger written down the name Magda instead of Lovisa, which was
apparently the name the victim went under. If her full name had not been printed in the TV listing, Salander would have missed it.
And, of course, the more important question was: was there a link between Rebecka’s murder in 1949,
the murder of Magda Lovisa in 1960, and Harriet Vanger’s disappearance in 1966?
On Saturday morning Burman took Blomkvist on an extensive tour of Norsjö. In the morning they called
on five former employees who lived within walking distance of Burman’s house. Everyone offered them
coffee. All of them studied the photographs and shook their heads.
After a simple lunch at the Burman home, they got in the car for a drive. They visited four villages near
Norsjö, where former employees of the carpentry shop lived. At each stop Burman was greeted with warmth, but no-one was able to help them. Blomkvist was beginning to despair.
At 4:00 in the afternoon, Burman parked his car outside a typical red Västerbotten farm near Norsjövallen, just north of Norsjö, and introduced Mikael to Henning Forsman, a retired master carpenter.
“Yes, that’s Assar Brännlund’s lad,” Forsman said as soon as Blomkvist showed him the photographs.
“Oh, so that’s Assar’s boy,” Burman said. “Assar was a buyer.”
“How can I find him?”
“The lad? Well, you’ll have to dig. His name was Gunnar, and he worked at the Boliden mine. He died
in a blasting accident in the mid-seventies.”
Blomkvist’s heart sank.
“But his wife is still alive. The one in the picture here. Her name is Mildred, and she lives in Bjursele.”
“It’s about six miles down the road to Bastuträsk. She lives in the long red house on the right-hand side
as you’re coming into the village. It’s the third house. I know the family well.”
“Hi, my name is Lisbeth Salander, and I’m writing my thesis on the criminology of violence against women in the twentieth century. I’d like to visit the police district in Landskrona and read through the documents of a case from 1957. It has to do with the murder of a woman by the name of Rakel Lunde. Do
you have any idea where those documents are today?”
Bjursele was like a poster for the Västerbotten country village. It consisted of about twenty houses set relatively close together in a semicircle at one end of a lake. In the centre of the village was a crossroads with an arrow pointing towards Hemmingen, 10½ miles, and another pointing towards Bastuträsk, 7
miles. Near the crossroads was a small bridge with a creek that Blomkvist assumed was the water, the
sel. At the height of summer, it was as pretty as a postcard.
He parked in the courtyard in front of a Konsum that was no longer open, almost opposite the third house on the right-hand side. When he knocked on the door, no-one answered.
He took an hour-long walk along the road towards Hemmingen. He passed a spot where the stream became rushing rapids. He met two cats and saw a deer, but not a single person, before he turned around.
Mildred Brännlund’s door was still shut.
On a post near the bridge he found a peeling flyer announcing the BTCC, something that could be deciphered as the Bjursele Tukting Car Championship 2002. “Tukting” a car was apparently a winter sport that involved smashing up a vehicle on the ice-covered lake.
He waited until 10:00 p.m. before he gave up and drove back to Norsjö, where he had a late dinner and
then went to bed to read the denouement of Val McDermid’s novel.
It was grisly.
At 10:00 Salander added one more name to Harriet Vanger’s list. She did so with some hesitation.
She had discovered a shortcut. At quite regular intervals articles were published about unsolved murders, and in a Sunday supplement to the evening newspaper she had found an article from 1999 with
the headline “Many Murderers of Women Go Free.” It was a short article, but it included the names and
photographs of several noteworthy murder victims. There was the Solveig case in Norrtälje, the Anita murder in Norr köping, Margareta in Helsingborg, and a number of others.
The oldest case to be recounted was from the sixties, and none of the murders matched the list that Salander had been given by Blomkvist. But one case did attract her attention.
In June 1962 a prostitute by the name of Lea Persson from Göteborg had gone to Uddevalla to visit her
mother and her nine-year-old son, whom her mother was taking care of. On a Sunday evening, after a visit
of several days, Lea had hugged her mother, said goodbye, and caught the train back to Göteborg. She was
found two days later behind a container on an industrial site no longer in use. She had been raped, and her body had been subjected to extraordinary violence.
The Lea murder aroused a great deal of attention as a summer serial story in the newspaper, but no killer had ever been identified. There was no Lea on Harriet Vanger’s list. Nor did the manner of her death fit with any of Harriet’s Bible quotes.
On the other hand, there was such a bizarre coincidence that Salander’s antennae instantly buzzed.
About ten yards from where Lea’s body was found lay a flowerpot with a pigeon inside. Someone had tied a string round the pigeon’s neck and pulled it through the hole in the bottom of the pot. Then the pot was put on a little fire that had been laid between two bricks. There was no certainty that this cruelty had any connection with the Lea murder. It could have been a child playing a horrible game, but the press dubbed the murder the Pigeon Murder.
Salander was no Bible reader—she did not even own one—but that evening she went over to Högalid
Church and with some difficulty she managed to borrow a Bible. She sat on a park bench outside the church and read Leviticus. When she reached Chapter 12, verse 8, her eyebrows went up. Chapter 12
dealt with the purification of women after childbirth.
And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for
a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and
she shall be clean.
Lea could very well have been included in Harriet’s date book as: Lea—31208.
Salander thought that no research she had ever done before had contained even a fraction of the scope
of this assignment.
Mildred Brännlund, remarried and now Mildred Berggren, opened the door when Blomkvist knocked
around 10:00 on Sunday morning. The woman was much older, of course, and had by now filled out a good deal, but he recognised her at once.
“Hi, my name is Mikael Blomkvist. You must be Mildred Berggren.”
“I’m sorry for knocking on your door like this, but I’ve been trying to find you, and it’s rather complicated to explain.” He smiled at her. “I wonder if I could come in and take up a small amount of
Mildred’s husband and a son who was about thirty-five were home, and without much hesitation she invited Blomkvist to come and sit in their kitchen. He shook hands with each of them. He had drunk more
coffee during the past twenty-four hours than at any time in his life, but by now he had learned that in Norrland it was rude to say no. When the coffee cups were on the table, Mildred sat down and asked with
some curiosity how she could help him. It was obvious that he did not easily understand her Norsjö dialect, so she switched to standard Swedish.
Blomkvist took a deep breath. “This is a long and peculiar story,” he said. “In September 1966 you were in Hedestad with your then husband, Gunnar Brännlund.”
She looked surprised. He waited for her to nod before he laid the photograph from Järnvägsgatan on the
table in front of her.
“When was this picture taken? Do you remember the occasion?”
“Oh, my goodness,” Mildred Berggren said. “That was a lifetime ago.”
Her present husband and son came to stand next to her to look at the picture.
“We were on our honeymoon. We had driven down to Stockholm and Sigtuna and were on our way home and happened to stop somewhere. Was it in Hedestad, you said?”
“Yes, Hedestad. This photograph was taken at about 1:00 in the afternoon. I’ve been trying to find you
for some time now, and it hasn’t been a simple task.”
“You see an old photograph of me and then actually track me down. I can’t imagine how you did it.”
Blomkvist put the photograph from the car park on the table.
“I was able to find you thanks to this picture, which was taken a little later in the day.” He explained
how, via the Norsjö Carpentry Shop, he had found Burman, who in turn had led him to Henning Forsman
“You must have a good reason for this long search.”
“I do. This girl standing close to you in this photograph is called Harriet. That day she disappeared, and she was never seen or heard of again. The general assumption is that she fell prey to a murderer. Can
I show you some more photographs?”
He took out his iBook and explained the circumstances while the computer booted up. Then he played
her the series of images showing how Harriet’s facial expression changed.
“It was when I went through these old images that I found you, standing with a camera right behind Harriet, and you seem to be taking a picture in the direction of whatever it is she’s looking at, whatever caused her to react in that way. I know that this is a really long shot, but the reason I’ve been looking for you is to ask you if by any miracle you still have the pictures from that day.”
He was prepared for Mildred Berggren to dismiss the idea and tell him that the photographs had long
since vanished. Instead she looked at him with her clear blue eyes and said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, that of course she still had her old honeymoon pictures.
She went to another room and came back after several minutes with a box in which she had stored a
quantity of pictures in various albums. It took a while to find the honeymoon ones. She had taken three photographs in Hedestad. One was blurry and showed the main street. Another showed her husband at the
time. The third showed the clowns in the parade.
Blomkvist eagerly leaned forward. He could see a figure on the other side of the street behind a clown.
But the photograph told him absolutely nothing.
Tuesday, July 1–
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