The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: Continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series (30 page)

BOOK: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: Continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series
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“This is from Faria,” she said.

Bashir doubled over and took another hit, but managed to straighten up. With unsteady steps he stumbled through the door, down the dark stairwell, out into the afternoon sun.

Salander stood holding the hockey stick. Khalil Kazi was behind her by the sofa, his eyes flitting back and forth, his mouth hanging open. A teenager still, with a wiry, slight body, he looked terrified. He was hardly a threat to anyone, but he might flee and begin to unravel. Giannini had mentioned a risk of suicide. Salander kept her eye on the door and glanced at her watch.

It was 4.20 in the afternoon. She checked her e-mails. Neither Bublanski nor Farah Sharif had answered. Giannini had written:

She looked at Khalil, who was breathing heavily. He seemed to want to say something.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” he said.

“Who?”

“The woman in the papers.”

She nodded. “You and I have another film to look at. This one’s less exciting, it’s mostly hand movements.”

She propped the hockey stick against the wall, took the bag with her laptop from the chest of drawers and motioned to Khalil to sit on the sofa. He was pale and looked as if his legs might give way. But he did as he was told.

She gave him a brief, factual account of movement recognition and deep neural networks. She told him she had filmed his run earlier, and about the C.C.T.V. in the Tunnelbana. He muttered something inaudible and she knew at once by the way his body stiffened that he had understood. She sat down next to him and opened the files on her laptop. As they watched she tried to explain, but he did not seem to be taking any of it in. For a long time he stared blankly at the screen, and then his mobile rang. He looked at her.

“Go ahead and answer it,” she said.

Khalil picked up and it was obvious from the formality in his voice that he was speaking to someone for whom he had the greatest respect. His imam was in the neighbourhood – that must have been Annika Giannini’s doing – and he was asking if he could join them. Salander nodded, that might be a good idea. Confessions were more the imam’s province anyway.

A short while later there was a knock at the door. A tall, elegant man stepped into the apartment. He was in his fifties and had a long beard and a red turban. He nodded to Salander and then turned to Khalil with a melancholy smile.

“Hello, my boy,” he said. “You and I can talk in peace now.”

His voice was heavy with sorrow and for a moment there was silence. Salander felt uncomfortable, all of a sudden unsure what she should do.

“I don’t think it’s safe here,” she said. “I suggest you leave, get yourselves to the mosque.”

She took her laptop and bag and left them without saying goodbye, disappearing into the dark stairwell.

December, a year and a half earlier

Dan Brody sat on a bench in Norrmalmstorg. It was his first day back in Stockholm. The sky was clear, the air cold, and he was wearing a scruffy black coat with a white fake-fur collar, sunglasses and a grey woollen hat pulled down over his forehead. On his lap was a book on the Lehman Brothers collapse. He wanted to learn about his brother’s world.

He had checked in to the af Chapman youth hostel on Skeppsholmen, an old converted ship where the cabins cost 690 kronor per night. This was just within his means. A few people in the neighbourhood had seemed to recognize him, and that hurt – as if he were no longer himself but a poorer copy of somebody else. Having only recently been the urbane musician, now once again he was the farm boy from Hälsingland province who had always thought he wasn’t good enough for Stockholmers. On Birger Jarlsgatan he had slipped into a clothes shop where he bought the sunglasses and woollen hat and tried to hide behind them.

He never stopped thinking about contacting his brother. Should he e-mail after all, send a video link or simply call? He did not have the courage. First he wanted to observe Leo from a distance, and that is why he was sitting outside Alfred Ögren Securities on Norrmalmstorg, waiting.

Ivar Ögren emerged with a determined, impatient stride, and was picked up by a black B.M.W. with tinted windows and driven off like a statesman.

But no sign of Leo. He was up there in the red-brick building. Dan had called and asked for him in English, and had been told he was in a meeting. He would be free soon, they said. Every time the entrance door opened Dan sat up, but he was still waiting. Darkness had long since fallen over Stockholm. An icy wind was blowing up from the water’s edge and it was getting too cold to sit and read.

He stood up and walked back and forth across the square, rubbing his fingertips through his leather gloves. Still no sign. The rush-hour traffic was easing, and he looked over at the restaurant in the square with its large glass windows. The guests inside were smiling and talking, and he felt excluded. Life always seemed to be happening elsewhere, a party to which he had not been invited. It occurred to him that he was a perpetual outsider.

And then Leo appeared. Dan would never forget it. Time seemed to stand still and his field of vision narrowed, all sound died away. But the experience was not purely joyful, not there in the cold and the glow of light from the restaurant. The sight of his twin only intensified his pain. Leo was heartbreakingly like him. He had the same walk, the same smile, the same hand movements and the same lines on his cheeks and around his eyes. Everything was the same, and yet: It was as if Dan were seeing himself in a gilded mirror. The man over there was him, but was not him.

Leo Mannheimer was the man Dan could have been, and the more he looked, the more dissimilarities he noticed. Not just the coat and the expensive suit and shoes. It was the spring in his step and the bright look in his eyes. Leo seemed to radiate the kind of self-confidence Dan had never possessed, and when he thought of this he found it hard to breathe.

His heart pounded as he looked at the woman walking beside Leo with her arm around his waist. She had an intelligent, sophisticated air about her and seemed very attached to Leo. They were both laughing, and Dan realized that she must be Malin Frode, the woman Julia had spoken about with a certain note of jealousy. He dared not approach them. Instead he watched as they strolled up towards Biblioteksgatan. He followed without really knowing why, walking slowly and keeping his distance.

Not that they were likely to notice him. They were absorbed in each other. They disappeared in the direction of Humlegården, their laughter floating in the air. He felt heavy, as if their carefree ease were dragging his body to the ground. He tore himself away and walked back to his youth hostel, alone, not considering for a moment that appearances can be deceptive, that others might regard Dan as the one who had had all the luck.

Life often looks its best from a distance. He was yet to understand that.

Blomkvist was on his way to Nyköping. He carried a shoulder bag with a notebook and tape recorder, as well as three bottles of rosé. Lotta von Kanterborg had suggested them. Her sister Hilda was staying at Hotel Forsen near the river under the name Fredrika Nord. She was prepared to talk, apparently, as long as certain conditions were met. One of these was the bottles of rosé.

Another was extreme discretion. Hilda was certain that someone was after her, and what Blomkvist had said only made her anxiety worse. According to Lotta, the information had derailed her. Accordingly, Blomkvist had not told anyone where he was going, not even Erika.

Now he was sitting at a café by the main meeting point in Stockholm Central Station, waiting for Malin. He needed to talk to her – he must leave no stone unturned, he wanted to test his theories to see if they held water. Malin arrived ten minutes late. She looked gorgeous in jeans and a blue blouse, even though, like half of Stockholm, she was flustered and sweating.

“Really sorry,” she said. “I had to drop off Linus at my mother’s.”

“You could have brought him along. I only have a few questions.”

“I know. But I’m on my way somewhere.”

He gave her a quick kiss and got straight to the point.

“When you met Leo at the Fotografiska Museum, did you notice any differences beyond the fact that he seemed to be right-handed?”

“Such as?”

Blomkvist glanced up at the station clock.

“Well, a birthmark, for example, on one side rather than the other. Or a cowlick pointing in a new direction. His hair’s pretty curly, isn’t it?”

“You’re scaring me, Mikael. What do you mean?”

“I’m working on a story about identical twins separated at birth. Can’t say more than that for the moment. Please don’t tell anyone, O.K.?”

All of a sudden Malin looked terrified and grabbed him by the arm.

“So you’re saying …”

“I’m not saying anything, not yet. But I do wonder …” He paused. “Identical twins have identical genes, pretty much,” he said. “Certain genetic changes, small mutations, take place in all of us.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m giving you some simple facts – otherwise the whole thing’s incomprehensible. Identical twins are formed from a single egg which splits relatively quickly in the uterus. The question here is how soon that split takes place. If it’s more than four days after fertilization, the twins share a placenta, and that increases the risk to the foetuses. And if the split occurs even later, between seven and twelve days, say, the babies can turn out to be mirror-image twins. In fact, 20 per cent of all identical twins are mirror-image twins.”

“Meaning what?”

“That they’re identical, except they’re each other’s mirror image. One becomes left-handed, the other right-handed. In rare cases their hearts can be on opposite sides of their bodies.”

“So you’re saying that …” She stuttered over the words and Blomkvist laid his hand on her cheek to reassure her.

“The whole idea may be off the wall,” he said. “And even if it isn’t, even if the person you met at Fotografiska really was Leo’s mirror-image twin, that doesn’t necessarily mean a crime has been committed. It’s not identity theft like in
The Talented Mr Ripley
. Maybe they’ve just swapped roles, they’ve been having a bit of fun, trying something new. Can you walk with me towards the train? I’m going to run out of time.”

Malin sat there as if turned to stone. Then they stood up and took the escalator to the level below and walked past the shops to platform 11. He told her that he was off to Linköping on an assignment. He wanted to leave as few leads as possible.

“I’ve been reading about identical twins who met only as adults and had been unaware of each other’s existence until then,” he went on. “They almost always describe this first meeting as fantastic, Malin. Apparently it’s the most earth-shattering experience ever. Imagine: You think you’re one of a kind, unique – and then another one pops up. They say that identical twins who meet late in life can’t get enough of each other. They run through everything: talents, shortcomings, habits, gestures, memories – the works. They become whole, they grow. They’re happier than ever before. Some of these stories really moved me, Malin. You yourself said that Leo had been euphoric for a while.”

“That’s right – but then soon after he no longer was.”

“True.”

“He left the country and we lost contact.”

“Exactly,” Blomkvist said. “I’ve thought about that too. Is there anything – either in his appearance or elsewhere – that could help me understand what’s been going on?”

They had reached the platform. The train was already there.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Think!”

“Well, maybe one thing. Do you remember I told you he’d got engaged to Julia Damberg?

“That upset you, didn’t it?”

“Not really.”

He did not entirely believe her.

“More than anything I was surprised,” she said. “Julia used to work for us. Then she moved to Frankfurt and none of us heard from her for a few years. But towards the end of my time at the firm she called and wanted to speak to Leo. I’m not sure he ever called her back, in fact. Julia said something odd.”

“What?”

“She asked me if I knew that Leo played the guitar even better than the piano. He was a virtuoso, she said. I’d never heard Leo mention it, so I asked him.”

“What did he say?”

“Nothing. He just blushed and laughed. It was during that time when he was deliriously happy.”

Blomkvist was no longer paying attention. The words “guitar” and “virtuoso” had struck a troubling note. He was deep in thought as he said goodbye to Malin and got on the train.

December, a year and a half earlier

For a few days Dan stayed away. It was a worrying time. He either read in his cabin on the hostel ship or took nervous walks on Skeppsholmen and Djurgården. Sometimes he went for a run. In the evenings, in the bar on board, he drank more than he normally would. When he could not sleep at night he wrote about his life in red, leather-bound notebooks. On Wednesday, December 13, he headed back to Norrmalmstorg, but he could not bring himself to approach Leo then either.

Then, on Friday, December 15, he took along his guitar and sat on the bench next to the restaurant in the middle of the square. It was snowing again, the temperature had dropped and his coat was no longer adequate to keep out the cold, but he couldn’t afford anything warmer. He was running out of money, and he could not bear the idea of playing for random jazz groups just to make a living. He could think only of Leo. Nothing else was important.

That day, Leo emerged from the office early. Dressed in a dark-blue cashmere coat and a white scarf, he set off at a brisk pace. Dan followed, keeping closer this time, which was a mistake. Outside the Park cinema Leo turned suddenly and looked around, as if he had sensed that there was someone on his tail. But he did not see Dan. The street was full of people and Dan, wearing his woollen hat and sunglasses, turned away and looked in the direction of Stureplan. Leo kept walking and crossed Karlavägen.

Dan stopped outside the Malaysian embassy on Floragatan and watched as Leo went into his apartment building. The door closed behind him with a bang, and Dan stood in the cold and waited, just as he had waited before. He knew it would be a while. Lights came on in the top apartment after a few minutes. They shone like the aura of a more beautiful world. Occasional notes could be heard from a grand piano, and when Dan recognized the harmonies his eyes filled with tears. But he was also freezing, and he swore under his breath. Sirens wailed in the distance. A bitter wind was blowing.

BOOK: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: Continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series
5.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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