Authors: David Lagercrantz
Kira would have liked to sever her links with Svavelsjö M.C. She would have loved to get rid of those bloody bandits with their ridiculous leather vests and rivets, the balaclavas and the tattoos. But she needed them once more, and had therefore showered them with money. She also reminded them of Zalachenko, and declared it a matter of honour, in his memory.
It stuck in her craw. She would much rather have berated them for being lowlifes and losers, and packed them off to a hairdresser. But she kept her cool, even her dignity, and once again she was grateful to have Galinov with her. Today he was wearing a white linen suit and brown leather shoes, and was sitting in the red armchair opposite her, reading an article about the relationship between the Swedish language and Low German. It was as if all this were no more than a study trip for him. But he lent her calm, a connection to the past, and, best of all, he terrified the bikers.
When they stood up to her and baulked at taking orders from a woman, Galinov had only to lower his reading glasses and give them an icy-blue stare. Then they did exactly as they were told. She guessed they knew what he was capable of, so she didn’t mind that he was being so inactive.
He would come into the picture later; the hunt for her sister was being handled by Bogdanov and the rest of the gang. So far they had found nothing, not a trace. It was as if they were chasing a shadow, and to make matters worse they had lost yet another lead tonight. Earlier she had summoned Marko Sandström, Svavelsjö’s president, and he now walked into the living room with another of the thugs—Krille, she thought his name was—although she could hardly have cared less.
“I don’t want any excuses,” she said. “Just a factual account of how this could have happened.”
Sandström smiled nervously, and she liked that. He was as big and threatening as all the others in Svavelsjö. But at least he had the good taste not to wear a beard and long hair, and his stomach was a normal size. His face was almost beautiful, in fact, and Camilla could imagine sinking her fingernails into his chest, just as she had in the old days.
“You’re asking for the impossible,” Sandström said, trying to sound authoritative, although he could not help glancing at Galinov, who did not even look up. She liked that too.
“What’s impossible? I was only asking you not to let him out of your sight, that’s all.”
“Yes, around the clock,” Sandström said. “That takes resources, and we’re not talking about some nobody.”
“How. Could. This. Happen?” she said again, stressing each word.
“That fucker…” the one she thought was called Krille said.
Sandström interrupted him:
“Let me deal with this. Camilla—”
“I’m sorry, Kira,” he went on. “Blomkvist rushed off in his motorboat yesterday afternoon. There was no way we could have followed him, and pretty soon the situation became uncomfortable. The island was crawling with policemen and soldiers, and we had no idea where he’d gone, so we split up. Jorma stayed in Sandhamn and Krille headed off to Bellmansgatan and waited there.”
“And that’s where Blomkvist showed up.”
“Late that evening, in a taxi. He seemed dead beat. There was nothing to suggest that he wasn’t simply going home to sleep, and I think we should really applaud Krille for having stuck with him. Blomkvist turned off his lights, but then came out of the building carrying a suitcase at 1:00 a.m. and walked towards the tunnelbana by Mariatorget. He never turned around once. When he got to the platform he sat down, his head in his hands.”
“It looked as if he was sick,” Krille added.
“Precisely,” Sandström said. “All that made us lower our guard. On the tunnelbana he leaned against the window and closed his eyes. He seemed completely knackered. But then…”
“At Gamla Stan, just before the doors closed, he rocketed to his feet, dashed through the doors and vanished off the platform. We lost him.”
Kira did not say a word, not at first. She exchanged a look with Galinov, then she looked down at her hands and sat there, immobile. One of the first things she had learned was that silence and calm are more intimidating than any outburst, and even though she wanted to scream, she simply said in a dry and matter-of-fact way:
“This woman who was with Blomkvist out in Sandhamn. Have we identified her?”
“Absolutely. She’s Catrin Lindås, she lives at Nytorget 6. She’s a well-known media whore.”
“Does she mean anything to him?”
“Well…” Krille began.
Krille had a ponytail and small, watery eyes. He didn’t exactly look like an expert in matters of the heart. But he seemed keen to have a go.
“They looked to me to be in love. They were all over each other, all day long in the garden.”
“OK, good,” she said. “Then I want you to keep tabs on her as well.”
“Christ, Camilla…sorry, Kira. That’s asking a lot. That’s three addresses to keep an eye on,” Sandström said.
Once again she sat there in silence, and then she thanked them. She was glad when Galinov, tall as he was, rose to his feet and saw them out. He said a few words to them which at first may have seemed courteous, but later, once they had sunk in, would scare the living daylights out of them.
He was so very good at that kind of thing, and it was needed, she thought. Once again she had lost the initiative, and she looked around angrily. The apartment was 1,800 square feet, bought through dummy companies and front men two years earlier, and still too impersonal and sparsely furnished. But it would have to do, for want of anything better. She got up, and without knocking went into the corner room to the right, where Bogdanov was sitting crouched over his computers, stinking of sweat.
“How are you getting on with Blomkvist’s computer?”
“I got into his server, like I told you.”
“But no further news?”
He shifted in his chair and she realized at once: He did not have any good news either.
“Yesterday Blomkvist was looking up Forsell, the Minister of Defence. That’s interesting, of course, not only because Forsell is one of the GRU’s targets and Galinov has had dealings with him in the past, but because yesterday the Minister tried—”
“I don’t give a shit about Forsell,” she snapped. “I’m only interested in the encrypted links Blomkvist received and forwarded.”
“I didn’t manage to crack them.”
“What do you mean you ‘didn’t manage’? You’ll just have to keep trying.”
Bogdanov bit his lip and looked down at the table.
“I’m no longer in there.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Last night someone chucked out my trojan.”
“How the hell did that happen? I thought it was impossible to get at your trojans.”
“I know, but…”
He chewed at his cuticles.
“So it was some sort of fucking genius, you mean?” she hissed.
“Seems like it,” he agreed, and Kira was about to hit the ceiling when a completely different thought struck her. Instead of yelling and making a scene she smiled.
It had dawned on her that Lisbeth was closer than she had dared hope.
Blomkvist lay in bed in Hotel Hellsten on Luntmakargatan, while Salander sat in an armchair over by the window, looking at him absently. He had slept for barely two hours. It hadn’t been such a good idea to go there. It wasn’t as if it had been a romantic night, nor had they met up as old friends. The whole thing had gone off the rails from the moment they met in the doorway.
At first she had stared at him as if she could not wait to tear his clothes off, and even though he had been thinking about Catrin on the way there, he might not have been able to defend himself. But it was not him she was so keen to get her hands on, it was his computer, and his mobile. She grabbed them from him and squatted in a strange crouched position behind some black screens she unfolded and set up on the floor. There she stayed, silent and immobile, with only her fingers working at a frenzied speed. In the end he could not stand it any longer. He lost his temper and yelled at her that he had nearly drowned. That he had saved a bloody minister. Either he had to get some sleep or at least be allowed to talk and find out what she was up to.
“Shut up,” she said.
“For Christ’s sake!”
He was furious. He felt like walking out and never seeing her again. But in the end he turned his back on it all, got undressed, lay down on one side of the double bed and fell asleep like a sulky child. Some time towards dawn she crept in beside him and whispered in his ear, as if in some demented attempt at seduction:
“You had a trojan, smart-arse,” and that ruined the rest of his night.
He was scared. He began to worry about his sources and insisted that she tell him what was going on, which reluctantly she did. Gradually the scale of the madness became clear to him, although not all of it, of course. As usual she was not very forthcoming and soon her eyelids began to droop. She put her head on the pillow and drifted off, leaving him alone and agitated in the bed, and he groaned, convinced that he would not be able to go back to sleep. But now he had woken up and Salander was back in the armchair, dressed in knickers and a black shirt which was far too long for her. She drifted in and out of sleep, while Blomkvist looked groggily at the muscles in her legs and the black rings under her eyes.
“There’s breakfast out there,” she said.
“Great.” He went to fetch the trays and put them one by one on the bed. He made coffee in the Nespresso machine by the window and sat cross-legged on the mattress, and she sat down opposite him. He looked at her as if she were both stranger and intimate friend and, more clearly than ever, he felt he understood her and yet did not understand her at all.
“Why did you hesitate?” he said.
She didn’t like his question. She didn’t like the look on his face. She wanted to get away from there or pull him down into the bed and shut him up, and she thought about Paulina and her husband and the iron in her hand, and about other far worse things from way back in her childhood. She was not at all sure she would answer him. Then she said:
“I remembered something.”
Blomkvist looked at her intently and she regretted at once that she had not kept her mouth shut.
“What did you remember?”
“I remembered my family.”
“What about them?”
Just leave it.
“I remembered…” she began, as if she could not help herself, or as if something inside her was determined to put this into words.
“Tell me,” he said.
“Mamma knew that Camilla was stealing from us and lying to the police to protect Zala. She knew that Camilla said terrible things about us to the social welfare authorities and made the situation at home even more of a living hell.”
“I know all this,” he said. “Holger told me.”
“But did you also know…”
Should she just drop it? She spat it out:
“That in the end Mamma had enough and threatened to throw Camilla out?”
“I had no idea.”
“It’s the truth.”
“But Camilla was only a child.”
“She was twelve.”
“Maybe she was just exasperated and didn’t really mean it. But she was always on my side, I know that. She didn’t like Camilla.”
“That can happen in any family. One of the children becomes the favourite.”
“But in this case there were consequences. It blinded us.”
“To what was going on.”
“What was that?”
She wanted to scream and run away. But she continued, as if driven by a force she could no longer control:
“We thought that Camilla had Zala. That it was two against two in our war, Mamma and me against Zala and Camilla. But that’s not how it was. Camilla was on her own.”
“You were all on your own.”
“It was worse for Camilla.”
“In what way?”
She looked away.
“Zala would sometimes come into our room at night,” she said. “At the time I was too young to understand why. But I didn’t give it much thought either. He was evil and did whatever he wanted. That’s just how it was, and at the time I only had one thing on my mind.”
“You wanted to stop your mother being abused.”
“I wanted to kill Zala, and of course I knew that Camilla had ganged up with him. I had no reason to worry about her.”
“I can see that.”
“But obviously I should have asked myself why Zala had changed.”
“In what way had he changed?”
“He was staying the night more and more often, and somehow that didn’t fit. He was used to luxury and having people running around after him. And now our apartment was suddenly good enough for him. That must have been because there was a new pawn in the game. On Tverskoy Boulevard the penny dropped. He was attracted to Camilla, like all other men.”
“So it was
he was coming for at night.”
“He always asked her to follow him to the living room, and listening to their voices it just sounded to me as if they were planning something against Mamma and me. But maybe I also heard something else, something I wasn’t able to get my head around at the time. They often went off in the car.”
“He abused her.”
“He ruined her.”
“You can’t blame yourself for that,” he said.
She wanted to scream.
“I was just answering your question. I realized that neither Mamma nor I lifted a finger to help her. That’s what made me hesitate.”
Blomkvist sat in silence on the bed, trying to absorb what he had heard. Then he put a hand on her shoulder. She pushed it away and looked out of the window.
“Do you know what I think?” he said.
She did not reply.
“I think you’re just not the sort of the person who shoots people like that.”
“I don’t think you are, Lisbeth. I never have.”
She took a croissant from the tray, and more to herself than to him she muttered: