He put on three strips of surgical tape. He went into the bedroom, pulled on a clean pair of jeans and a new T-shirt, taking the folder of printed-out photographs with him. He was so furious he was almost shaking.


"Stay here, Lisbeth," he shouted.


He walked over to Cecilia Vanger's house and rang the doorbell. It was half a minute before she opened the door.


"I don't want to see you," she said. Then she saw his face, where blood was already seeping through the tape.


"Let me in. We have to talk."


She hesitated. "We have nothing to talk about."


"We do now, and you can discuss it here on the steps or in the kitchen."


Blomkvist's tone was so determined that Cecilia stepped back and let him in. He sat at her kitchen table.


"What have you done?" she said.


"You claim that my digging for the truth about Harriet Vanger is some futile form of occupational therapy for Henrik. That's possible, but an hour ago someone bloody nearly shot my head off, and last night someone - maybe the same humourist - left a horribly dead cat on my porch."


Cecilia opened her mouth, but Blomkvist cut her off.


"Cecilia, I don't give a shit about your hang-ups or what you worry about or the fact that you suddenly hate the sight of me. I'll never come near you again, and you don't have to worry that I'm going to bother you or run after you. Right this minute I wish I'd never heard of you or anyone else in the Vanger family. But I require answers to my questions. The sooner you answer them, the sooner you'll be rid of me."


"What do you want to know?"


"Number one: where were you an hour ago?"


Cecilia's face clouded over.


"An hour ago I was in Hedestad."


"Can anyone confirm where you were?"


"Not that I can think of, and I don't have to account to you."


"Number two: why did you open the window in Harriet's room the day she disappeared?"


"What?"


"You heard me. For all these years Henrik has tried to work out who opened the window in Harriet's room during those critical minutes. Everybody has denied doing it. Someone is lying."


"And what in hell makes you think it was me?"


"This picture," Blomkvist said, and flung the blurry photograph onto her kitchen table.


Cecilia walked over to the table and studied the picture. Blomkvist thought he could read shock on her face. She looked up at him. He felt a trickle of blood run down his cheek and drop onto his shirt.


"There were sixty people on the island that day," he said. "And twenty-eight of them were women. Five or six of them had shoulder-length blonde hair. Only one of those was wearing a light-coloured dress."


She stared intently at the photograph.


"And you think that's supposed to be me?"


"If it isn't you, I'd like you to tell me who you think it is. Nobody knew about this picture before. I've had it for weeks and tried to talk to you about it. I may be an idiot, but I haven't showed it to Henrik or anyone else because I'm deathly afraid of casting suspicion on you or doing you wrong. But I do have to have an answer."


"You'll get your answer." She held out the photograph to him. "I didn't go into Harriet's room that day. It's not me in the picture. I didn't have the slightest thing to do with her disappearance."


She went to the front door.


"You have your answer. Now please go. But I think you should have a doctor look at that wound."


***


Salander drove him to Hedestad Hospital. It took only two stitches and a good dressing to close the wound. He was given cortisone salve for the rash from the stinging nettles on his neck and hands.


After they left the hospital Blomkvist sat for a long time wondering whether he ought to go to the police. He could see the headlines now. "Libel Journalist in Shooting Drama." He shook his head. "Let's go home," he said.


It was dark when they arrived back at Hedeby Island, and that suited Salander fine. She lifted a sports bag on to the kitchen table.


"I borrowed this stuff from Milton Security, and it's time we made use of it."


She planted four battery-operated motion detectors around the house and explained that if anyone came closer than twenty feet, a radio signal would trigger a small chirping alarm that she set up in Blomkvist's bedroom. At the same time, two light-sensitive video cameras that she had put in trees at the front and back of the cabin would send signals to a PC laptop that she set in the cupboard by the front door. She camouflaged the cameras with dark cloth.


She put a third camera in a birdhouse above the door. She drilled a hole right through the wall for the cable. The lens was aimed at the road and the path from the gate to the front door. It took a low-resolution image every second and stored them all on the hard drive of another PC laptop in the wardrobe.


Then she put a pressure-sensitive doormat in the entrance. If someone managed to evade the infrared detectors and got into the house, a 115-decibel siren would go off. Salander demonstrated for him how to shut off the detectors with a key to a box in the wardrobe. She had also borrowed a night-vision scope.


"You don't leave a lot to chance," Blomkvist said, pouring coffee for her.


"One more thing. No more jogging until we crack this."


"Believe me, I've lost all interest in exercise."


"I'm not joking. This may have started out as a historical mystery, but what with dead cats and people trying to blow your head off we can be sure we're on somebody's trail."


They ate dinner late. Blomkvist was suddenly dead tired and had a splitting headache. He could hardly talk any more, so he went to bed.


Salander stayed up reading the report until 2:00.


CHAPTER 23


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 Froskogen 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."


"Go ahead."


"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 very beginning."


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 head-stones 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.

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