Authors: David Lagercrantz
“I’ve just gone way up in my daughters’ estimation,” she said.
“Well, at least I’ve done one useful thing today. What did you want to tell me?”
Nyman poured herself a glass of white wine and told Blomkvist what she had discovered.
“So nobody has yet said how or why he ended up there in the first place,” he said.
“There’s some kind of confidentiality around the whole thing. Military secrecy, I think.”
“As if it had something to do with national security?”
“I don’t know.”
“Or else it’s designed to protect certain individuals, rather than the country.”
“It could be that,” Nyman said.
“Isn’t it all a bit strange?”
“Certainly is,” she answered slowly, “and a huge scandal too. He seems to have been locked up in a small room there for several years, without even seeing a dentist, or anybody else as far as I can tell. I’m not sure if you know the place.”
“I read Gustav Stavsjö’s manifesto once upon a time,” he said.
“It all sounded great, didn’t it? The sickest of us would get the best care. The dignity of a society is defined by the way it looks after its weakest members.”
“He felt very strongly about his cause, didn’t he?”
“But those were different times, and his faith in dialogue and therapy was naïve, at least for patients with such severe symptoms, and psychiatry generally was also moving in a different direction, wasn’t it, towards more medication and coercive measures. The clinic, which is so beautifully located by the water and looks like some sort of mansion, became more and more of a depository for hopeless cases, especially refugees traumatized by war, and it grew increasingly difficult to recruit people to work there. The clinic got a lousy reputation.”
“So I’ve gathered.”
“There were ambitious plans to close it down and integrate the patients into the county council’s health-care system. But the sons who ran the Gustav Stavsjö Foundation managed to prevent it by persuading Professor Alm, who had a good reputation, to take over. He began to modernize the clinic and rebuild the organization, and it was in that context that he and his colleague became aware of Nima, or Nihar Rawal, as he was known in his medical records.”
“At least he got to keep his initials.”
“He did. But there’s something fishy about it. There was a particular contact person for him, whose identity the clinic has refused to disclose, who was supposed to have direct access to all information about him before anyone else. I don’t know, but I got the impression it’s a big name, someone important who the staff were in awe of.”
“Like Undersecretary Lindberg, for example.”
“Or Defence Minister Forsell.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are too many questions.”
“Far too many.”
“Did you find out whether Nima named Forsell during the clinic’s attempts at therapy with him?” he said.
“No, I don’t know that either. But Bublanski may be right in thinking that his obsession with Forsell began after he saw him on TV in the shop on Hornsgatan. He probably also got hold of your number while he was there.”
“I’ll have to look into that.”
“Good luck,” she said.
“Thanks, I’m going to need it.”
“Can I ask you something totally different?” she said.
“That DNA researcher you put me in touch with, who was it?”
“Just someone I know,” he said.
“She’s got one hell of an attitude.”
“There’s a good reason for that,” he said.
Then they said goodbye and good night, and Nyman was left sitting alone, looking out at the lake and the swans, which she could just make out over on the far side.
Salander got an encrypted text from Blomkvist. She was busy with other things, so she ignored it. Over the course of the day she had not only acquired a new weapon—a Beretta 87 Cheetah like the one she had had in Moscow—and an IMSI-catcher; she had also collected her motorcycle, her Kawasaki Ninja, from the garage on Fiskargatan.
She had exchanged her suit for a hoodie, jeans and sneakers, and was now in a room at the Nobis Hotel in Norrmalmstorg, not far from Strandvägen, where she was keeping an eye on a bank of surveillance cameras and trying to work up the same thirst for revenge she had felt earlier in the summer. But the past kept intruding. And she had no time for the old.
She had to be focused, the more so now that Galinov was around. He was ruthless. Not that she knew all that much about him beyond the rumours buzzing about on the dark web. But some things had been confirmed to her, and that was more than enough: Galinov had been connected to her father, was a disciple of his and an ally at the GRU.
He had often worked undercover with rebel movements and with arms smugglers. He was said to possess an indefinite quality: He blended in everywhere, not because he was so good at adapting himself or had any acting talent. On the contrary, he was always his own man, and that apparently inspired trust.
He was fluent, it was said, in a number of languages, and was receptive and erudite. Because of his height and bearing, and his distinguished features, he took over every room he entered, and that too spoke in his favour. Nobody could believe that the Russians would have used a person with such a noticeable profile as a spy and an infiltrator, and he was unwavering in his loyalty. He found it just as easy to be brutal as to be tender and fatherly.
He became best friends with people whom he later had no difficulty in torturing. His days as an intelligence officer or undercover agent were long past, and nowadays he would simply call himself a businessman or an interpreter, euphemisms of sorts for gangster. But although he was heavily involved with the Zvezda Bratva, the “Star Mob” crime syndicate, he often worked with Camilla, and was extremely useful to her. His name alone was an asset.
The one thing that really worried Salander was Galinov’s network of contacts and his links to the GRU. He had resources behind him which would sooner or later encircle her, so she could no longer afford to be indecisive. Standing by her hotel window facing Norrmalmstorg, she was now set to do what she had been preparing for all day: Put them under pressure. Try to force them to make a mistake. But first she glanced at Blomkvist’s message:
She did not answer. She forgot the message in a second and put her weapon in her grey shoulder bag. She then pulled her hood over her head, put on sunglasses and left the room, taking the lift down and striding purposefully into the square.
It looked as if it was going to cloud over. There were lots of people out and about and the open-air restaurants and shops were full. She turned right into Smålandsgatan, emerging into Birger Jarlsgatan and dropping down into Östermalmstorg station, where she took the tunnelbana to Södermalm.
Rebecka Forsell was sitting at her husband’s bedside at the Karolinska hospital when Blomkvist called again. She was just about to answer when Johannes made a sudden movement, as if he were having a nightmare, so she stroked his hair and let her mobile ring. Three soldiers were sitting outside the room, looking in at her through the glass in the door.
She was very conscious of being under surveillance. It intruded on her need to watch over him and she resented that. How could they treat them like this? They had even frisked Johannes’s mother. It was scandalous, and the worst was Klas Berg, head of Must, and of course also Svante Lindberg, who had claimed to be so goddamn sympathetic and upset.
He had come with chocolates and flowers and tears in his eyes, and he commiserated and hugged her. But he had not fooled her. He was sweating too much, and his eyes were darting back and forth. At least twice he asked if Johannes had said anything out on Sandön he needed to know about, and all she had wanted to do was scream: “What are you hiding from me?” But she said nothing. She just thanked him for his support, then told him she couldn’t face visitors and asked him to leave. He left reluctantly, and that was lucky because shortly afterwards Johannes came to, and told her he was sorry. His apology seemed sincere, and they talked briefly about their sons and how he was feeling, but when she asked, “Why, Johannes, why?” he gave no answer.
Perhaps he was not strong enough. Perhaps he simply wanted to escape from everything. Now he was asleep again, or just dozing. He looked anything but relaxed, however, and she took his hand. It was then that a text came through from Blomkvist. He apologized for disturbing her but said that they needed to talk, either on an encrypted line or face-to-face, in private. But she couldn’t, not now, and she looked in despair at her husband who was murmuring in his dreams.
Forsell was back on Everest. In his mind he was staggering ahead in the lashing snowstorm, it was cold and unbearable, and he could hardly think any longer. He just tramped on and could hear his crampons creak, and the thunder in the skies and the wide-open spaces. He wondered how much longer he could take it.
Often he was conscious only of his rasping breath in the oxygen mask and the indistinct shape of Lindberg next to him, and sometimes not even of that.
At times he was surrounded by darkness, maybe because in those moments he was walking with his eyes shut, and if there had been a precipice he would have stepped right into it and fallen without even a scream or a care. Then even the jet streams seemed to quiet. He was heading into a black and soundless oblivion, and yet not long before he had recalled his father standing by the ski tracks, yelling encouragement:
There’s more in you, my boy. There’s more in you.
For a long time, when fear had him in its claws, he had clung to those words. If you dug deep enough, there was always a little extra. But no longer.
Now there was nothing left, and he looked down at the snow swirling around his boots and thought that this might be the moment he would finally collapse, and that was when he heard the shouts, the wailing carried along by the winds, which at first sounded inhuman, as if the mountain itself were crying out its distress.
Johannes said something now, quite clearly, but Rebecka did not know if it was in his sleep or he was speaking to her.
“Can you hear?”
She heard only what she had been hearing all day, the roar from the highway outside, the hum of the hospital equipment and the steps and voices in the corridor, and she did not answer. She just wiped a drop of sweat from his forehead and straightened his hair. That made him open his eyes and she felt a sudden surge of hope and longing.
Talk to me,
Tell me what happened.
He looked at her with such fear in his eyes that it frightened her.
“Were you dreaming?” she said.
“It was those cries again.”
In the past they had often discussed the events on the mountain. But she had no recollection of any cries, and she considered letting it go. She could tell by the look in his eyes that his thoughts were not entirely lucid.
“I don’t really know what you mean,” she said.
“I thought it was the storm, don’t you remember? The winds which sounded almost human.”
“No, darling, I don’t. I was never with you up there. I was at Base Camp the whole time, you know that.”
“But I must have told you.”
She shook her head and wanted to change the subject, and not only because he seemed delirious. Her heart sank, as if she could tell there was something fateful about those cries.
“Shouldn’t you rest a little?” she said.
“Then I thought they were wild dogs.”
“Wild dogs at twenty-six thousand feet. Imagine that.”
“We can talk about Everest later,” she said. “But first, Johannes, you must help me to understand. What made you run off like that?”
“Just now, on Sandön. You swam out into the bay.”
She saw from his look that it was coming back to him, and it was obvious at once that this did not make things any better. He seemed more at home with his wild dogs on Everest.
“Who pulled me out? Was it Erik?”
“It wasn’t one of the bodyguards.”
“So who was it?”
She wondered how he would take it. “It was Mikael Blomkvist.”
“That’s strange,” he said, and it was indeed incredibly strange, but his reaction did not reflect that. He sounded listless and sad, and he looked down at his hands with an indifference that frightened her. She waited for him to come back with a question. But when it did come, there was no curiosity in his voice.
“He called when I was at my most hysterical. He said he was working on an article.”
“You’re never going to believe me,” she said, although she suspected that he would believe her only too well.
Salander got off at Zinkensdamm station and walked along Ringvägen into Brännkyrkagatan, as the memories welled up once more. Maybe because she was back in the neighbourhood where she had lived as a child, or because her mind was alive again as she prepared a new operation.
She looked up at the sky. It had turned dark. It would probably start raining soon, just like in Moscow. The air felt heavy, as if a storm was brewing, and some way off she saw a young man on the pavement, doubled up as if he were being sick. She could see drunk people everywhere, maybe there was some kind of party going on. Perhaps it was pay day, or a public holiday.
She turned left up the steps and as she approached Blomkvist’s home from Tavastgatan, slowly her focus returned, absolute and complete, and she registered every detail and figure around her. Yet…it was not what she was expecting to find. Had she been mistaken? There was nothing suspicious, only more drunks. But no, wait, over there by the crossroads…
It was nothing more than a back, the broad back of a man wearing a corduroy jacket. He held a book in his hand, and criminals did not usually wear corduroy jackets or read books. He was tall and slightly overweight, and there was something about him that put her on edge, his posture or the way he looked up, and she passed him unnoticed, giving him only the briefest glance. Immediately she saw that she had been right. The jacket and book had been no more than a pathetic disguise, a clumsy attempt to masquerade as a hipster from Söder, and she realized that she not only knew
he was. She even knew
His name was Conny Andersson, and not that long ago he had been a hanger-on, a gofer. Unsurprisingly he was not a major figure in the club. He had been given a shitty assignment: to stand and wait for some man who was probably not going to show up. Yet Salander knew he was no innocent for all that. He was more than six feet tall and a debt-collection enforcer, and she walked on with her head down, as if she had not seen him.
She then turned and scanned the other side of the street. There were two young drunks of about twenty wandering a little way off, and ahead of them a lady in her sixties, ambling along much too slowly, and that was not good. But Salander did not have time to wait. The minute Conny Andersson spotted her, she would be in trouble, so she carried calmly on, straight ahead.
Then she took a sharp turn to the right and went straight at him, and he looked up and fumbled for his gun. But that was as far as he got. She kneed him in the groin and, as his body folded, she headbutted him twice. He lost his balance, and at that moment she heard the lady call out:
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Salander had to ignore her. There was no time to reassure old ladies and she was reasonably sure that she would not dare to come closer. Besides, the woman could call the police all she wanted. They would never make it in time, not now that Salander hurled herself at Andersson so that he crashed onto the road. Quick as a flash she sat on top of him, took off her sunglasses and pulled her pistol out of the bag, pressing the muzzle against his Adam’s apple. He looked up at her in terror.
“I’m going to kill you,” she said.
He no longer seemed so hard after all and he mumbled something as she continued in her coldest voice:
“I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you and all the others in your shitty little club if you so much as lay a finger on Mikael Blomkvist. It’s me you want, so come for me, no-one else. Do you hear?”
“I hear you,” he said.
“Or actually…tell Sandström I don’t care whether you touch Blomkvist or not. I’m going to get you all anyway. Until there’s nothing left of you except your terrified girlfriends and wives.”
There was no answer from Andersson, so she pressed the muzzle of her pistol harder against his throat.
“So what’s it to be?”
“I’ll tell him,” Andersson stammered.
“Excellent. And by the way…there’s a woman staring at us, so I’m not going to throw away your pistol or do some other shit. I’m just going to kick you in the head, and if you so much as reach for your gun I’m going to shoot you. Because it’s like this you see…”
She frisked him quickly with her left hand and pulled his mobile out of his jeans, a new iPhone with face recognition.
“…I’m going to get my message out anyway. Even if you happen to die.”
She pushed her pistol up under his chin.
“So, Conny, let’s have a nice big smile from you now.”
She held the mobile over him and unlocked it, and in no time at all headbutted him again and took a photograph. Then she put her sunglasses back on and disappeared down towards Slussen and Gamla Stan, scrolling through Andersson’s contacts list. There were a few names there which surprised her, a well-known actor, two politicians and an officer in the drugs squad who was presumably corrupt. But she didn’t care about them.