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Friday, July 11
He awoke at 6:00 with the sun shining through a gap in the curtains right in his face. He had a vague headache, and it hurt when he touched the bandage. Salander was asleep on her stomach with one arm flung over him. He looked down at the dragon on her shoulder blade.
He counted her tattoos. As well as a wasp on her neck, she had a loop around one ankle, another loop
around the biceps of her left arm, a Chinese symbol on her hip, and a rose on one calf.
He got out of bed and pulled the curtains tight. He went to the bathroom and then padded back to bed,
trying to get in without waking her.
A couple of hours later over breakfast Blomkvist said, “How are we going to solve this puzzle?”
“We sum up the facts we have. We try to find more.”
“For me, the only question is: why? Is it because we’re trying to solve the mystery about Harriet, or
because we’ve uncovered a hitherto unknown serial killer?”
“There must be a connection,” Salander said. “If Harriet realised that there was a serial killer, it can
only have been someone she knew. If we look at the cast of characters in the sixties, there were at least
two dozen possible candidates. Today hardly any of them are left except Harald Vanger, who is not running around in the woods of Fröskogen at almost ninety-three with a gun. Everybody is either too old
to be of any danger today, or too young to have been around in the fifties. So we’re back to square one.”
“Unless there are two people who are collaborating. One older and one younger.”
“Harald and Cecilia? I don’t think so. I think she was telling the truth when she said that she wasn’t the person in the window.”
“Then who was that?”
They turned on Blomkvist’s iBook and spent the next hour studying in detail once again all the people
visible in the photographs of the accident on the bridge.
“I can only assume that everyone in the village must have been down there, watching all the excitement.
It was September. Most of them are wearing jackets or sweaters. Only one person has long blonde hair
and a light-coloured dress.”
“Cecilia Vanger is in a lot of the pictures. She seems to be everywhere. Between the buildings and the
people who are looking at the accident. Here she’s talking to Isabella. Here she’s standing next to Pastor Falk. Here she’s with Greger Vanger, the middle brother.”
“Wait a minute,” Blomkvist said. “What does Greger have in his hand?”
“Something square-shaped. It looks like a box of some kind.”
“It’s a Hasselblad. So he too had a camera.”
They scrolled through the photographs one more time. Greger was in more of them, though often blurry.
In one it could be clearly seen that he was holding a square-shaped box.
“I think you’re right. It’s definitely a camera.”
“Which means that we go on another hunt for photographs.”
“OK, but let’s leave that for a moment,” Salander said. “Let me propose a theory.”
“What if someone of the younger generation knows that someone of the older generation is a serial killer, but they don’t want it acknowledged. The family’s honour and all that crap. That would mean that
there are two people involved, but not that they’re in it together. The murderer could have died years ago, while our nemesis just wants us to drop the whole thing and go home.”
“But why, in that case, put a mutilated cat on our porch? It’s an unmistakable reference to the murders.”
Blomkvist tapped Harriet’s Bible. “Again a parody of the laws regarding burnt offerings.”
Salander leaned back and looked up at the church as she quoted from the Bible. It was as if she were
talking to herself.
“Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood, and they shall throw the blood round about against the altar that is the door of the tent of meeting. And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces.”
She fell silent, aware that Blomkvist was watching her with a tense expression. He opened the Bible to
the first chapter of Leviticus.
“Do you know verse twelve too?”
Salander did not reply.
“And he shall . . .” he began, nodding at her.
“And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall lay them in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar.” Her voice was ice.
“And the next verse?”
Abruptly she stood up.
“Lisbeth, you have a photographic memory,” Mikael exclaimed in surprise. “That’s why you can read a
page of the investigation in ten seconds.”
Her reaction was almost explosive. She fixed her eyes on Blomkvist with such fury that he was astounded. Then her expression changed to despair, and she turned on her heel and ran for the gate.
“Lisbeth,” he shouted after her.
She disappeared up the road.
Mikael carried her computer inside, set the alarm, and locked the front door before he set out to look for her. He found her twenty minutes later on a jetty at the marina. She was sitting there, dipping her feet in the water and smoking. She heard him coming along the jetty, and he saw her shoulders stiffen. He stopped a couple of paces away.
“I don’t know what I did, but I didn’t mean to upset you.”
He sat down next to her, tentatively placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Please, Lisbeth. Talk to me.”
She turned her head and looked at him.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she said. “I’m just a freak, that’s all.”
“I’d be overjoyed if my memory was what yours is.”
She tossed the cigarette end into the water.
Mikael sat in silence for a long time. What am I supposed to say? You’re a perfectly ordinary girl.
What does it matter if you’re a little different? What kind of self-image do you have, anyway?
“I thought there was something different about you the instant I saw you,” he said. “And you know what? It’s been a really long time since I’ve had such a spontaneous good impression of anyone from the
Some children came out of a cabin on the other side of the harbour and jumped into the water. The painter, Eugen Norman, with whom Blomkvist still had not exchanged a single word, was sitting in a chair
outside his house, sucking on his pipe as he regarded Blomkvist and Salander.
“I really want to be your friend, if you’ll let me,” he said. “But it’s up to you. I’m going back to the house to put on some more coffee. Come home when you feel like it.”
He got up and left her in peace. He was only halfway up the hill when he heard her footsteps behind
him. They walked home together without exchanging a word.
She stopped him just as they reached the house.
“I was in the process of formulating a theory . . . We talked about the fact that all this is a parody of the Bible. It’s true that he took a cat apart, but I suppose it would be hard to get hold of an ox. But he’s following the basic story. I wonder . . .” She looked up at the church again. “And they shall throw the blood round about against the altar that is the door of the tent of meeting . . .”
They walked over the bridge to the church. Blomkvist tried the door, but it was locked. They wandered
around for a while, looking at headstones until they came to the chapel, which stood a short distance away, down by the water. All of a sudden Blomkvist opened his eyes wide. It was not a chapel, it was a
crypt. Above the door he could read the name Vanger chiselled into the stone, along with a verse in Latin, but he could not decipher it.
“ ‘Slumber to the end of time,’ ” Salander said behind him.
Blomkvist turned to look at her. She shrugged.
“I happened to see that verse somewhere.”
Blomkvist roared with laughter. She stiffened and at first she looked furious, but then she relaxed when
she realised that he was laughing at the comedy of the situation.
Blomkvist tried the door. It was locked. He thought for a moment, then told Salander to sit down and
wait for him. He walked over to see Anna Nygren and knocked. He explained that he wanted to have a
closer look at the family crypt, and he wondered where Henrik might keep the key. Anna looked doubtful,
but she collected the key from his desk.
As soon as they opened the door, they knew that they had been right. The stench of burned cadaver and
charred remains hung heavy in the air. But the cat torturer had not made a fire. In one corner stood a blowtorch, the kind used by skiers to melt the wax on their skis. Salander got the camera out of the pocket of her jeans skirt and took some pictures. Then, gingerly, she picked up the blowtorch.
“This could be evidence. He might have left fingerprints,” she said.
“Oh sure, we can ask the Vanger family to line up and give us their fingerprints.” Blomkvist smiled. “I
would love to watch you get Isabella’s.”
“There are ways,” Salander said.
There was a great deal of blood on the floor, not all of it dry, as well as a bolt cutter, which they reckoned had been used to cut off the cat’s head.
Blomkvist looked around. A raised sarcophagus belonged to Alexandre Vangeersad, and four graves in
the floor housed the remains of the earliest family members. More recently the Vangers had apparently settled for cremation. About thirty niches on the wall had the names of the clan ancestors. Blomkvist traced the family chronicle forward in time, wondering where they buried family members who were not
given space inside the crypt—those not deemed important enough.
“Now we know,” Blomkvist said as they were re-crossing the bridge. “We’re hunting for the complete lunatic.”
“What do you mean?”
Blomkvist paused in the middle of the bridge and leaned on the rail.
“If this was some run-of-the-mill crackpot who was trying to frighten us, he would have taken the cat
down to the garage or even out into the woods. But he went to the crypt. There’s something compulsive
about that. Just think of the risk. It’s summer and people are out and about at night, going for walks. The road through the cemetery is a main road between the north and south of Hedeby. Even if he shut the door
behind him, the cat must have raised Cain, and there must have been a burning smell.”
“I don’t think that Cecilia Vanger would be creeping around here in the night with a blowtorch.”
“I don’t trust any last one of them, including Frode or your friend Henrik. They’re all part of a family
that would swindle you if they had the chance. So what do we do now?”
Blomkvist said, “I’ve discovered a lot of secrets about you. How many people, for example, know that
you’re a hacker?”
“No-one except me, you mean.”
“What are you getting at?”
“I want to know if you’re OK with me. If you trust me.”
She looked at him for a long moment. Finally, for an answer, she only shrugged.
“There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Do you trust me?” Blomkvist persisted.
“For the time being,” she said.
“Good. Let’s go over to see Frode.”
This was the first time Advokat Frode’s wife had met Salander. She gave her a wide-eyed look at the same time as she smiled politely. Frode’s face lit up when he saw Salander. He stood to welcome them.
“How nice to see you,” he said. “I’ve been feeling guilty that I never properly expressed my gratitude
for the extraordinary work you did for us. Both last winter and now, this summer.”
Salander gave him a suspicious glare.
“I was paid,” she said.
“That’s not it. I made some assumptions about you when I first saw you. You would be kind to pardon
me in retrospect.”
Blomkvist was surprised. Frode was capable of asking a twenty-five-year-old pierced and tattooed girl
to forgive him for something for which he had no need to apologise! The lawyer climbed a few notches in
Blomkvist’s eyes. Salander stared straight ahead, ignoring him.
Frode looked at Blomkvist.
“What did you do to your head?”
They sat down. Blomkvist summed up the developments of the past twenty-four hours. As he described
how someone had shot at him out near the Fortress, Frode leaped to his feet.
“This is barking mad.” He paused and fixed his eyes on Blomkvist. “I’m sorry, but this has to stop. I
can’t have it. I am going to talk to Henrik and break the contract.”
“Sit down,” said Blomkvist.
“You don’t understand . . .”
“What I understand is that Lisbeth and I have got so close that whoever is behind all of this is reacting
in a deranged manner, in panic. We’ve got some questions. First of all: how many keys are there to the
Vanger family crypt and who has one?”
“It’s not my province, and I have no idea,” Frode said. “I would suppose that several family members
would have access to the crypt. I know that Henrik has a key, and that Isabella sometimes goes there, but I can’t tell you whether she has her own key or whether she borrows Henrik’s.”
“OK. You’re still on the main board. Are there any corporate archives? A library or something like that, where they’ve collected press clippings and information about the firm over the years?”
“Yes, there is. At the Hedestad main office.”
“We need access to it. Are there any old staff newsletters or anything like that?”
“Again I have to concede that I don’t know. I haven’t been to the archives myself in thirty years. You
need to talk to a woman named Bodil Lindgren.”
“Could you call her and arrange that Lisbeth has access to the archives this afternoon? She needs all the
old press clippings about the Vanger Corporation.”
“That’s no problem. Anything else?”
“Yes. Greger Vanger was holding a Hasselblad in his hand on the day the bridge accident occurred.
That means that he also might have taken some pictures. Where would the pictures have ended up after his
“With his widow or his son, logically. Let me call Alexander and ask him.”
“What am I looking for?” Salander said when they were on their way back to the island.
“Press clippings and staff newsletters. I want you to read through everything around the dates when the
murders in the fifties and sixties were committed. Make a note of anything that strikes you. Better if you do this part of the job. It seems that your memory . . .”
She punched him in the side.
Five minutes later her Kawasaki was clattering across the bridge.
Blomkvist shook hands with Alexander Vanger. He had been away for most of the time that Blomkvist had
been in Hedeby. He was twenty when Harriet disappeared.
“Dirch said that you wanted to look at old photographs.”
“Your father had a Hasselblad, I believe.”
“That’s right. It’s still here, but no-one uses it.”
“I expect you know that Henrik has asked me to study again what happened to Harriet.”
“That’s what I understand. And there are plenty of people who aren’t happy about that.”
“Apparently so, and of course you don’t have to show me anything.”
“Please . . . What would you like to see?”
“If your father took any pictures on the day of the accident, the day that Harriet disappeared.”
They went up to the attic. It took several minutes before Alexander was able to identify a box of unsorted photographs.
“Take home the whole box,” he said. “If there are any at all, they’ll be in there.”
As illustrations for the family chronicle, Greger Vanger’s box held some real gems, including a number of
Greger together with Sven Olof Lindholm, the big Swedish Nazi leader in the forties. Those he set aside.
He found envelopes of pictures that Greger had taken of family gatherings as well as many typical holiday photographs—fishing in the mountains and a journey in Italy.
He found four pictures of the bridge accident. In spite of his exceptional camera, Greger was a wretched photographer. Two pictures were close-ups of the tanker truck itself, two were of spectators, taken from behind. He found only one in which Cecilia Vanger was visible in semi-profile.
He scanned in the pictures, even though he knew that they would tell him nothing new. He put everything back in the box and had a sandwich lunch as he thought things over. Then he went to see Anna.
“Do you think Henrik had any photograph albums other than the ones he assembled for his investigation
“Yes, Henrik has always been interested in photography—ever since he was young, I’ve been told. He
has lots of albums in his office.”
“Could you show me?”
Her reluctance was plain to see. It was one thing to lend Blomkvist the key to the family crypt—God
was in charge there, after all—but it was another matter to let him into Henrik Vanger’s office. God’s writ did not extend there. Blomkvist suggested that Anna should call Frode. Finally she agreed to allow him in.
Almost three feet of the very bottom shelf was taken up with photograph albums. He sat at the desk and
opened the first album.
Vanger had saved every last family photograph. Many were obviously from long before his time. The
oldest pictures dated back to the 1870s, showing gruff men and stern women. There were pictures of Vanger’s parents. One showed his father celebrating Midsummer with a large and cheerful group in Sandhamn in 1906. Another Sandhamn photograph showed Fredrik Vanger and his wife, Ulrika, with Anders Zorn and Albert Engström sitting at a table. Other photographs showed workers on the factory floor and in offices. He found Captain Oskar Granath who had transported Vanger and his beloved Edith
Lobach to safety in Karlskrona.
Anna came upstairs with a cup of coffee. He thanked her. By then he had reached modern times and was
paging through images of Vanger in his prime, opening factories, shaking hands with Tage Erlander, one of
Vanger and Marcus Wallenberg—the two capitalists staring grimly at each other.
In the same album he found a spread on which Vanger had written in pencil “Family Council 1966.”
Two colour photographs showed men talking and smoking cigars. He recognised Henrik, Harald, Greger,
and several of the male in-laws in Johan Vanger’s branch of the family. Two photographs showed the formal dinner, forty men and women seated at the table, all looking into the camera. The pictures were taken after the drama at the bridge was over but before anyone was aware that Harriet had disappeared.
He studied their faces. This was the dinner she should have attended. Did any of the men know that she
was gone? The photographs provided no answer.
Then suddenly he choked on his coffee. He started coughing and sat up straight in his chair.
At the far end of the table sat Cecilia Vanger in her light-coloured dress, smiling into the camera. Next
to her sat another blonde woman with long hair and an identical light-coloured dress. They were so alike
that they could have been twins. And suddenly the puzzle piece fell into place. Cecilia wasn’t the one in
Harriet’s window—it was her sister, Anita, two years her junior and now living in London.
What was it Salander had said? Cecilia Vanger is in a lot of the pictures. Not at all. There were two girls, and as chance would have it—until now—they had never been seen in the same frame. In the black-and-white photographs, from a distance, they looked identical. Vanger had presumably always been able
to tell the sisters apart, but for Blomkvist and Salander the girls looked so alike that they had assumed it was one person. And no-one had ever pointed out their mistake because they had never thought to ask.
Blomkvist turned the page and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. It was as if a cold gust of wind passed through the room.
There were pictures taken the next day, when the search for Harriet had begun. A young Inspector Morell was giving instructions to a search party consisting of two uniformed police officers and ten men
wearing boots who were about to set out. Vanger was wearing a knee-length raincoat and a narrow-brimmed English hat.
On the left of the photograph stood a young, slightly stout young man with light, longish hair. He had on
a dark padded jacket with a red patch at the shoulder. The image was very clear. Blomkvist recognised
him at once—and the jacket—but, just to make sure, he removed the photograph and went down to ask Anna if she recognised the man.
“Yes, of course, that’s Martin.”
Salander ploughed through year after year of press cuttings, moving in chronological order. She began in
1949 and worked her way forward. The archive was huge. The company was mentioned in the media nearly every day during the relevant time period—not only in the local press but also in the national media. There were financial analyses, trade union negotiations, the threat of strikes, factory openings and factory closings, annual reports, changes in managers, new products that were launched . . . There was a
flood of news. Click. Click. Click. Her brain was working at high speed as she focused and absorbed the information from the yellowing pages.
After several hours she had an idea. She asked the archives manager if there was a chart showing where the Vanger Corporation had factories or companies during the fifties and sixties.
Bodil Lindgren looked at Salander with undisguised coldness. She was not at all happy giving a total
stranger permission to enter the inner sanctum of the firm’s archives, being obliged to allow her to look
through whatever documents she liked. And besides, this girl looked like some sort of half-witted fifteen-
year-old anarchist. But Herr Frode had given her instructions that could not be misinterpreted. This slip of a girl was to be free to look at anything she pleased. And it was urgent. She brought out the printed annual reports for the years that Salander wanted to see; each report contained a chart of the firm’s divisions throughout Sweden.
Salander looked at the charts and saw that the firm had many factories, offices, and sales outlets. At every site where a murder was committed, there was also a red dot, sometimes several, indicating the Vanger Corporation.
She found the first connection in 1957. Rakel Lunde, Landskrona, was found dead the day after the V. & C. Construction Company clinched an order worth several million to build a galleria in the town. V. & C.
stood for Vanger and Carlén Construction. The local paper had interviewed Gottfried Vanger, who had come to town to sign the contract.
Salander recalled something she had read in the police investigation in the provincial record office in
Landskrona. Rakel Lunde, fortune-teller in her free time, was an office cleaner. She had worked for V. & C. Construction.
At 7:00 in the evening Blomkvist called Salander a dozen times and each time her mobile was turned off.
She did not want to be disturbed.
He wandered restlessly through the house. He had pulled out Vanger’s notes on Martin’s activities at
the time of Harriet’s disappearance.
Martin Vanger was in his last year at the preparatory school in Uppsala in 1966. Uppsala. Lena Andersson, seventeen-year-old preparatory school pupil. Head separated from the fat.
Vanger had mentioned this at one point, but Blomkvist had to consult his notes to find the passage.
Martin had been an introverted boy. They had been worried about him. After his father drowned, Isabella
had decided to send him to Uppsala—a change of scene where he was given room and board with Harald
Vanger. Harald and Martin? It hardly felt right.
Martin Vanger was not with Harald in the car going to the gathering in Hedestad, and he had missed a
train. He arrived late in the afternoon and so was among those stranded on the wrong side of the bridge.
He only arrived on the island by boat some time after 6:00. He was received by Vanger himself, among
others. Vanger had put Martin far down the list of people who might have had anything to do with Harriet’s disappearance.
Martin said that he had not seen Harriet on that day. He was lying. He had arrived in Hedestad earlier
in the day and he was on Järnvägsgatan, face to face with his sister. Blomkvist could prove the lie with
photographs that had been buried for almost forty years.
Harriet Vanger had seen her brother and reacted with shock. She had gone out to Hedeby Island and tried to talk to Henrik, but she was gone before any conversation could take place. What were you thinking of telling him? Uppsala? But Lena Andersson, Uppsala, was not on the list. You could not have known about it.
The story still did not make sense to Blomkvist. Harriet had disappeared around 3:00 in the afternoon.
Martin was unquestionably on the other side of the water at that time. He could be seen in the photograph
from the church hill. He could not possibly have hurt Harriet on the island. One puzzle piece was still missing. An accomplice? Anita Vanger?
From the archives Salander could see that Gottfried Vanger’s position within the firm had changed over
the years. At the age of twenty in 1947, he met Isabella and immediately got her pregnant; Martin Vanger
was born in 1948, and with that there was no question but that the young people would marry.
When Gottfried was twenty-two, he was brought into the main office of the Vanger Corporation by Henrik Vanger. He was obviously talented and they may have been grooming him to take over. He was promoted to the board at the age of twenty-five, as the assistant head of the company’s development division. A rising star.
Sometime in the mid-fifties his star began to plummet. He drank. His marriage to Isabella was on the
rocks. The children, Harriet and Martin, were not doing well. Henrik drew the line. Gottfried’s career had reached its zenith. In 1956 another appointment was made, another assistant head of development.
Two assistant heads: one who did the work while Gottfried drank and was absent for long periods of time.
But Gottfried was still a Vanger, as well as charming and eloquent. From 1957 on, his work seemed to
consist of travelling around the country to open factories, resolve local conflicts, and spread an image that company management really did care. We’re sending out one of our own sons to listen to your problems.
We do take you seriously.
Salander found a second connection. Gottfried Vanger had participated in a negotiation in Karlstad, where the Vanger Corporation had bought a timber company. On the following day a farmer’s wife, Magda Lovisa Sjöberg, was found murdered.
Salander discovered the third connection just fifteen minutes later. Uddevalla, 1962. The same day that
Lea Persson disappeared, the local paper had interviewed Gottfried Vanger about a possible expansion of
When Fru Lindgren had wanted to close up and go home at 5:30, Salander had snapped at her that she
was a long way from finished yet. She could go home as long as she left the key, and Salander would lock
up. By that time the archives manager was so infuriated that a girl like this one could boss her around that she called Herr Frode. Frode told her that Salander could stay all night if she wanted to. Would Fru Lindgren please notify security at the office so that they could let Salander out when she wanted to leave?
Three hours later, getting on for 8:30, Salander had concluded that Gottfried Vanger had been close to
where at least five of the eight murders were committed, either during the days before or after the event.
She was still missing information about the murders in 1949 and 1954. She studied a newspaper photograph of him. A slim, handsome man with dark blond hair; he looked rather like Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind.
In 1949 Gottfried was twenty-two years old. The first murder took place in his home territory.
Hedestad. Rebecka Jacobsson, who worked at the Vanger Corporation. Where did the two of you meet?
What did you promise her?
Salander bit her lip. The problem was that Gottfried Vanger had drowned when he was drunk in 1965,
while the last murder was committed in Uppsala in February 1966. She wondered if she was mistaken when she had added Lena Andersson, the seventeen-year-old schoolgirl, to the list. No. It might not be the same signature, but it was the same Bible parody. They must be connected.
By 9:00 it was getting dark. The air was cool and it was drizzling. Mikael was sitting in the kitchen, drumming his fingers on the table, when Martin Vanger’s Volvo crossed the bridge and turned out towards
the point. That somehow brought matters to a head.
He did not know what he should do. His whole being was burning with a desire to ask questions—to
initiate a confrontation. It was certainly not a sensible attitude to have if he suspected Martin Vanger of being an insane murderer who had killed his sister and a girl in Uppsala, and who had also very nearly
succeeded in killing him too. But Martin was also a magnet. And he did not know that Blomkvist knew; he
could go and see him with the pretext that . . . well, he wanted to return the key to Gottfried Vanger’s cabin. Blomkvist locked the door behind him and strolled out to the point.
Harald Vanger’s house was pitch dark, as usual. In Henrik’s house the lights were off except in one room facing the courtyard. Anna had gone to bed. Isabella’s house was dark. Cecilia wasn’t at home. The
lights were on upstairs in Alexander’s house, but they were off in the two houses occupied by people who
were not members of the Vanger family. He did not see a soul.
He paused irresolutely outside Martin Vanger’s house, took out his mobile, and punched in Salander’s
number. Still no answer. He turned off his mobile so that it would not start ringing.
There were lights on downstairs. Blomkvist walked across the lawn and stopped a few yards from the
kitchen window, but he could see no-one. He continued on around the house, pausing at each window, but
there was no sign of Martin. On the other hand, he did discover that the small side door into the garage
was slightly open. Don’t be a damn fool. But he could not resist the temptation to look.
The first thing he saw on the carpenter’s bench was an open box of ammunition for a moose rifle. Then
he saw two gasoline cans on the floor under the bench. Preparations for another nocturnal visit, Martin?
“Come in, Mikael. I saw you on the road.”
Blomkvist’s heart skipped a beat. Slowly he turned his head and saw Martin Vanger standing in the dark by a door leading into the house.
“You simply couldn’t stay away, could you?”
His voice was calm, almost friendly.
“Hi, Martin,” Blomkvist said.
“Come in,” Martin repeated. “This way.”
He took a step forward and to the side, holding out his left hand in an inviting gesture. He raised his
right hand, and Blomkvist saw the reflection of dull metal.
“I have a Glock in my hand. Don’t do anything stupid. At this distance I won’t miss.”
Blomkvist slowly moved closer. When he reached Martin, he stopped and looked him in the eye.
“I had to come here. There are so many questions.”
“I understand. Through the door.”
Blomkvist entered the house. The passage led to the hall near the kitchen, but before he got that far, Martin Vanger stopped him by putting a hand lightly on Blomkvist’s shoulder.
“No, not that way. To your right. Open the door.”
The basement. When Blomkvist was halfway down the steps, Martin Vanger turned a switch and the lights went on. To the right of him was the boiler room. Ahead he could smell the scents of laundry.
Martin guided him to the left, into a storage room with old furniture and boxes, at the back of which was a steel security door with a deadbolt lock.
“Here,” Martin said, tossing a key ring to Blomkvist. “Open it.”
He opened the door.
“The switch is on the left.”
Blomkvist had opened the door to hell.
Around 9:00 Salander went to get some coffee and a plastic-wrapped sandwich from the vending machine
in the corridor outside the archives. She kept on paging through old documents, looking for any trace of
Gottfried Vanger in Kalmar in 1954. She found nothing.
She thought about calling Blomkvist, but decided to go through the staff newsletters before she called it
The space was approximately ten by twenty feet. Blomkvist assumed that it was situated along the north
side of the house.
Martin Vanger had contrived his private torture chamber with great care. On the left were chains, metal
eyelets in the ceiling and floor, a table with leather straps where he could restrain his victims. And then the video equipment. A taping studio. In the back of the room was a steel cage for his guests. To the right of the door was a bench, a bed, and a TV corner with videos on a shelf.
As soon as they entered the room, Martin Vanger aimed the pistol at Blomkvist and told him to lie on
his stomach on the floor. Blomkvist refused.
“Very well,” Martin said. “Then I’ll shoot you in the kneecap.”
He took aim. Blomkvist capitulated. He had no choice.
He had hoped that Martin would relax his guard just a tenth of a second—he knew he would win any
sort of fight with him. He had had half a chance in the passage upstairs when Martin put his hand on his
shoulder, but he had hesitated. After that Martin had not come close. With a bullet in his kneecap he would have lost his chance. He lay down on the floor.
Martin approached from behind and told him to put his hands on his back. He handcuffed him. Then he
kicked Mikael in the crotch and punched him viciously and repeatedly.
What happened after that seemed like a nightmare. Martin swung between rationality and pure lunacy.
For a time quite calm, the next instant he would be pacing back and forth like an animal in a cage. He kicked Blomkvist several times. All Blomkvist could do was try to protect his head and take the blows in
the soft parts of his body.
For the first half hour Martin did not say a word, and he appeared to be incapable of any sort of communication. After that he seemed to recover control. He put a chain round Blomkvist’s neck, fastening
it with a padlock to a metal eyelet on the floor. He left Blomkvist alone for about fifteen minutes. When he returned, he was carrying a litre bottle of water. He sat on a chair and looked at Blomkvist as he drank.
“Could I have some water?” Blomkvist said.
Martin leaned down and let him take a good long drink from the bottle. Blomkvist swallowed greedily.
“Still so polite, Kalle Blomkvist.”
“Why all the punching and kicking?” Blomkvist said.
“Because you make me very angry indeed. You deserve to be punished. Why didn’t you just go home?
You were needed at Millennium. I was serious—we could have made it into a great magazine. We could have worked together for years.”
Blomkvist grimaced and tried to shift his body into a more comfortable position. He was defenceless.
All he had was his voice.
“I assume you mean that the opportunity has passed,” Blomkvist said.
Martin Vanger laughed.
“I’m sorry, Mikael. But, of course, you know perfectly well that you’re going to die down here.”
“How the hell did you find me, you and that anorexic spook that you dragged into this?”
“You lied about what you were doing on the day that Harriet disappeared. You were in Hedestad at the
Children’s Day parade. You were photographed there, looking at Harriet.”
“Was that why you went to Norsjö?”
“To get the picture, yes. It was taken by a honeymoon couple who happened to be in Hedestad.”
He shook his head.
“That’s a crass lie,” Martin said.
Blomkvist thought hard: what to say to prevent or postpone his execution.
“Where’s the picture now?”
“The negative? It’s in a safe-deposit box at Handelsbanken here in Hedestad . . . You didn’t know that I
have a safe-deposit box?” He lied easily. “There are copies in various places. In my computer and in the
girl’s, on the server at Millennium, and on the server at Milton Security, where the girl works.”
Martin waited, trying to work out whether or not Blomkvist was bluffing.
“How much does the girl know?”
Blomkvist hesitated. Salander was right now his only hope of rescue. What would she think when she
came home and found him not there? He had put the photograph of Martin Vanger wearing the padded jacket on the kitchen table. Would she make the connection? Would she sound the alarm? She is not going to call the police. The nightmare was that she would come to Martin Vanger’s house and ring the bell, demanding to know where Blomkvist was.
“Answer me,” Martin said, his voice ice-cold.
“I’m thinking. She knows almost as much as I do, maybe even a little more. Yes, I would reckon she
knows more than I do. She’s bright. She’s the one who made the link to Lena Andersson.”
“Lena Andersson?” Martin sounded perplexed.
“The girl you tortured and killed in Uppsala in 1966. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But for the first time he sounded shaken. It was the first time
that anyone had made that connection—Lena Andersson was not included in Harriet’s date book.
“Martin,” Blomkvist said, making his voice as steady as he could. “It’s over. You can kill me, but it’s
finished. Too many people know.”
Martin started pacing back and forth again.
I have to remember that he’s irrational. The cat. He could have brought the cat down here, but he
went to the family crypt. Martin stopped.
“I think you’re lying. You and Salander are the only ones who know anything. You obviously haven’t
talked to anyone, or the police would have been here by now. A nice little blaze in the guest cottage and
the proof will be gone.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
“If I’m wrong, then it really is over. But I don’t think it is. I’ll bet that you’re bluffing. And what other choice do I have? I’ll give that some thought. It’s that anorexic little cunt who’s the weak link.”
“She went to Stockholm at lunchtime.”
“Bluff away, Mikael. She has been sitting in the archives at the Vanger Corporation offices all evening.”
Blomkvist’s heart skipped a beat. He knew. He’s known all along.
“That’s right. The plan was to visit the archive and then go to Stockholm,” Blomkvist said. “I didn’t know she stayed there so long.”
“Stop all this crap, Mikael. The archives manager rang to tell me that Dirch had let the girl stay there as late as she liked. Which means she’ll certainly be home. The night watchman is going to call me when she
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