She fell asleep within ten seconds of her head hitting the pillow and slept for almost twelve hours. Then she got up, turned on the coffeemaker, wrapped a blanket around herself, and sat in the dark on a window seat, smoking a cigarette and looking out towards Djurgården and Saltsjon, fascinated by the lights.
The day after Salander came home was a full day. She locked the door of her apartment at 7:00 in the morning. Before she left her floor she opened a ventilation window in the stairwell and fastened a spare key to a thin copper wire that she had tied to the wall side of a drainpipe clamp. Experience had taught her the wisdom of always having a spare key readily accessible.
The air outside was icy. Salander was dressed in a pair of thin, worn jeans that had a rip beneath one back pocket where her blue panties showed through. She had on a T-shirt and a warm polo sweater with a seam that had started to fray at the neck. She had also rediscovered her scuffed leather jacket with the rivets on the shoulders, and decided she should ask a tailor to repair the almost nonexistent lining in the pockets. She was wearing heavy socks and boots. Overall, she was nice and warm.
She walked down St.Paulsgatan to Zinkensdamm and over to her old apartment on Lundagatan. She checked first of all that her Kawasaki was still safe in the basement. She patted the seat before she went up to the apartment and had to push the front door open against a mountain of junk mail.
She hadn't been sure what to do with the apartment, so when she'd left Sweden a year ago, the simplest solution had been to arrange an automatic bank account to pay her regular bills. She still had furniture in the apartment, laboriously collected over time from various trash containers, along with some chipped mugs, two older computers, and a lot of paper. But nothing of value.
She took a black trash bag from the kitchen and spent five minutes sorting the junk from the real mail. Most of the heap went straight into the plastic bag. There were a few letters for her, mainly bank statements and tax forms from Milton Security. One advantage of being under guardianship was that she never had to deal with tax matters - communications of that sort were conspicuous by their absence. Otherwise, in a whole year she had accumulated only three personal letters.
The first was from a lawyer, Greta Molander, who had served as executor for Salander's mother. The letter stated that her mother's estate had been settled and that Lisbeth Salander and her sister Camilla had inherited 9,312 kronor each. A deposit of said amount had been made to Ms. Salander's bank account. Would she please confirm receipt? Salander stuffed the letter in the inside pocket of her jacket.
The second was from Director Mikaelsson of appelviken Nursing Home, a friendly reminder that they were storing a box of her mother's personal effects. Would she please contact appelviken with instructions as to what she would like done with these items? The letter ended with the warning that if they did not hear from Salander or her sister (for whom they had no address) before the end of the year, they would have no alternative - space being at a premium - but to discard the items. She saw that the letter was dated June, and she took out her mobile telephone. The box was still there. She apologized for not responding sooner and promised to pick it up the next day.
The last letter was from Blomkvist. She thought for a moment before deciding not to open it, and threw it into the bag.
She filled another box with various items and knickknacks that she wanted to keep, then took a taxi back to Mosebacke. She put on makeup, a pair of glasses, and a blond shoulder-length wig and tucked a Norwegian passport in the name of Irene Nesser into her bag. She studied herself in the mirror and decided that Irene Nesser looked a little bit like Lisbeth Salander, but was still a completely different person.
After a quick lunch of a Brie baguette and a latte at Cafe Eden on Gotgatan, she walked down to the car rental agency on Ringvagen, where Irene Nesser rented a Nissan Micra. She drove to IKEA at Kungens Kurva and spent three hours browsing through the merchandise, writing down the item numbers she needed. She made a few quick decisions.
She bought two Karlanda sofas with sand-coloured upholstery, five Poang armchairs, two round side tables of clear-lacquered birch, a Svansbo coffee table, and several Lack occasional tables. From the storage department she ordered two Ivar combination storage units and two Bonde bookshelves, a TV stand, and a Magiker unit with doors. She settled on a Pax Nexus three-door wardrobe and two small Malm bureaus.
She spent a long time selecting a bed, and decided on a Hemnes bed frame with mattress and bedside tables. To be on the safe side, she also bought a Lillehammer bed to put in the spare room. She didn't plan on having any guests, but since she had a guest room she might as well furnish it.
The bathroom in her new apartment was already equipped with a medicine cabinet, towel storage, and a washing machine the previous owners had left behind. All she had to buy was a cheap laundry basket.
What she did need, though, was kitchen furniture. After some thought she decided on a Rosfors kitchen table of solid beechwood with a tabletop of tempered glass and four colourful kitchen chairs.
She also needed furniture for her office. She looked at some improbable "work stations" with ingenious cabinets for storing computers and keyboards. In the end she shook her head and ordered an ordinary desk, the Galant, in beech veneer with an angled top and rounded corners, and a large filing cabinet. She took a long time choosing an office chair - in which she would no doubt spend many hours - and chose one of the most expensive options, the Verksam.
She made her way through the entire warehouse and bought a good supply of sheets, pillowcases, hand towels, duvets, blankets, pillows, a starter pack of stainless steel cutlery, some crockery, pots and pans, cutting boards, three big rugs, several work lamps, and a huge quantity of office supplies - folders, file boxes, wastepaper baskets, storage boxes, and the like.
She paid with a card in the name of Wasp Enterprises and showed her Irene Nesser ID. She also paid to have the items delivered and assembled. The bill came to a little over 90,000 kronor.
She was back in Soder by 5:00 p.m. and had time for a quick visit to Axelsson's Home Electronics, where she bought a nineteen-inch TV and a radio. Just before closing time she slipped into a store on Hornsgatan and bought a vacuum cleaner. At Mariahallen market she bought a mop, dishwashing liquid, a bucket, some detergent, hand soap, toothbrushes, and a giant package of toilet paper.
She was tired but pleased after her shopping frenzy. She stowed all her purchases in her rented Nissan Micra and then collapsed in Cafe Java on Hornsgatan. She borrowed an evening paper from the next table and learned that the Social Democrats were still the ruling party and that nothing of great significance seemed to have occurred in Sweden while she had been away.
She was home by 8:00. Under cover of darkness she unloaded her car and carried the items up to V. Kulla's apartment. She left everything in a big pile in the hall and spent half an hour trying to find somewhere to park. Then she ran water in the Jacuzzi, which was easily big enough for three people. She thought about Blomkvist for a moment. Until she saw the letter from him that morning, she had not thought about him for several months. She wondered whether he was home, and whether the Berger woman was there now in his apartment.
After a while she took a deep breath, turned over on her stomach, and sank beneath the surface of the water. She put her hands on her breasts and pinched her nipples hard, holding her breath for far too long, until her lungs began to ache.
Erika Berger, editor in chief, checked her clock when Blomkvist arrived. He was almost fifteen minutes late for the planning meeting that was held on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. sharp. Tentative plans for the next issue were outlined, and decisions about the content of the magazine were made for several months in advance.
Blomkvist apologized for his late arrival and muttered an explanation that nobody heard or at least bothered to acknowledge. Apart from Berger, the meeting included the managing editor, Malin Eriksson, partner and art director Christer Malm, the reporter Monika Nilsson, and part-timers Lotta Karim and Henry Cortez. Blomkvist saw at once that the intern was absent, but that the group had been augmented by a new face at the small conference table in Berger's office. It was very unusual for her to let an outsider in on Millennium's planning sessions.
"This is Dag Svensson," said Erika. "Freelancer. We're going to buy an article from him."
Blomkvist shook hands with the man. Svensson was blond and blue-eyed, with a crew cut and a three-day growth of beard. He was around thirty and looked shamelessly fit.
"We usually run one or two themed issues each year." Berger went on where she had left off. "I want to use this story in the May issue. The printer is booked for April 27th. That gives us a good three months to produce the articles."
"So what's the theme?" Blomkvist wondered aloud as he poured coffee from the thermos.
"Dag came to me last week with the outline for a story. That's why I asked him to join us today. Will you take it from here, Dag?" Berger said.
"Trafficking," Svensson said. "That is, the sex trade. In this case primarily of girls from the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe. If you'll allow me to start at the beginning - I'm writing a book on the subject and that's why I contacted Millennium - since you now have a book-publishing operation."
Everyone looked amused. Millennium Publishing had so far issued exactly one book, Blomkvist's year-old brick about the billionaire Wennerstrom's financial empire. The book was in its sixth printing in Sweden, had been published in Norwegian, German, and English, and was soon to be translated into French too. The sales success was remarkable given that the story was by now so well known and had been reported in every newspaper.
"Our book-publishing ventures are not very extensive," Blomkvist said cautiously.
Even Svensson gave a slight smile. "I understand that. But you do have the means to publish a book."
"There are plenty of larger companies," Blomkvist said. "Well-established ones."
"Without a doubt," Berger said. "But for a year now we've been discussing the possibility of starting a niche publication list in addition to our regular activities. We've brought it up at two board meetings, and everyone has been positive. We're thinking of a very small list - three or four books a year - of reportage on various topics. Typical journalistic publications, in other words. This would be a good book to start with."
"Trafficking," Blomkvist said. "Tell us about it."
"I've been digging around in the subject of trafficking for four years now. I got into the topic through my girlfriend - her name is Mia Johansson and she's a criminologist and gender studies scholar. She previously worked at the Crime Prevention Centre and wrote a report on the sex trade."
"I've met her," Eriksson said suddenly. "I did an interview with her two years ago when she published a report comparing the way men and women were treated by the courts."
Svensson smiled. "That did create a stir. But she's been researching trafficking for five or six years. That's how we met. I was working on a story about the sex trade on the Internet and got a tip that she knew something about it. And she did. To make a long story short: she and I began working together, I as a journalist and she as a researcher. In the process we started dating, and a year ago we moved in together. She's working on her doctorate and she'll be defending her dissertation this year."
"So she's writing a doctoral thesis while you... ?"
"I'm writing a popular version of her dissertation and adding my own research. As well as a shorter version in the form of the article that I outlined for Erika."
"OK, you're working as a team. What's the story?"
"We have a government that introduced a tough sex-trade law, we have police who are supposed to see to it that the law is obeyed, and we have courts that are supposed to convict sex criminals - we call the johns sex criminals since it has become a crime to buy sexual services - and we have the media, which write indignant articles about the subject, et cetera. At the same time, Sweden is one of the countries that imports the most prostitutes per capita from Russia and the Baltics."
"And you can substantiate this?"
"It's no secret. It's not even news. What's new is that we have met and talked with a dozen girls. Most of them are fifteen to twenty years old. They come from social misery in Eastern Europe and are lured to Sweden with a promise of some kind of job but end up in the clutches of an unscrupulous sex mafia. Those girls have experienced things that you couldn't even show in a movie."
"It's the focus of Mia's dissertation, so to speak. But not of the book."
Everyone was listening intently.
"Mia interviewed the girls. What I did was to chart the suppliers and the client base."
Blomkvist smiled. He had never met Svensson before, but he felt at once that Svensson was the kind of journalist he liked - someone who got right to the heart of the story. For Blomkvist the golden rule of journalism was that there were always people who were responsible. The bad guys.
"And you found some interesting facts?"
"I can document, for instance, that a civil servant in the Ministry of Justice who was involved with the drafting of the sex-trade law has exploited at least two girls who came to Sweden through the agency of the sex mafia. One of them was fifteen."
"I've been working on this story off and on for three years. The book will contain case studies of the johns. There are three policemen, one of whom works for the Security Police, another on the vice squad. There are five lawyers, one prosecutor, and one judge. There are also three journalists, one of whom has written articles on the sex trade. In his private life he's into rape fantasies with a teenage whore from Tallinn - and in this case it's not consensual sex play. I'm thinking of naming names. I've got watertight documentation."