Blomkvist whistled. "Since I've become publisher again, I'll want to go over the documentation with a fine-tooth comb," he said. "The last time I was sloppy about checking sources I ended up spending two months in prison."

"If you want to publish the story I can give you all the documentation you want. But I have one condition for selling the story to Millennium."

"Dag wants us to publish the book too," Berger said.

"Precisely. I want it to be dropped like a bomb, and right now Millennium is the most credible and outspoken magazine in the country. I don't believe any other publisher would dare publish a book of this type."

"So, no book, no article?" said Blomkvist.

"I think it sounds seriously good," Eriksson said. There was a murmur of agreement from Cortez.

"The article and the book are two different things," Berger said. "For the magazine, Mikael is the publisher and responsible for the content. With regard to the book publication, the author is responsible for the content."

"I know," Svensson said. "That doesn't bother me. The moment the book is published, Mia will file a police report against everyone I name."

"That'll stir up a hell of a fuss," Cortez said.

"That's only half the story," said Svensson. "I've also been analyzing some of the networks that make money off the sex trade. We're talking about organized crime."

"And who's involved?"

"That's what's so tragic. The sex mafia is a sleazy bunch of nobodies. I don't really know what I expected when I started this research, but somehow we - at least I - had the idea that the 'mafia' was a gang in the upper echelon of society. A number of American movies on the subject have probably contributed to that image. Your story about Wennerstrom" - Svensson turned to Blomkvist - "also showed that sometimes this is actually the case. But Wennerstrom was an exception in a sense. What I've turned up is a gang of brutal and sadistic losers who can hardly read or write; they're total morons when it comes to organization and strategic thinking. There are connections to bikers and somewhat more organized groups, but in general it's a bunch of assholes who run the sex business."

"This is all made clear in your article," Berger said. "We have laws and a police force and a judicial system that we finance with millions of kronor in taxes each year to deal with the sex trade...  and they can't even nail a bunch of morons."

"It's a tremendous assault on human rights, and the girls involved are so far down society's ladder that they're of no interest to the legal system. They don't vote. They can hardly speak Swedish except for the vocabulary they need to set up a trick. Of all crimes involving the sex trade, 99.99 percent are not reported to the police, and those that are hardly ever lead to a charge. This has got to be the biggest iceberg of all in the Swedish criminal world. Imagine if bank robberies were handled with the same nonchalance. It's unthinkable. Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that this method of handling the problem would not survive for a single day if it weren't for the fact that the criminal justice system simply does not want to deal with it. Attacks on teenage girls from Tallinn and Riga are not a priority. A whore is a whore. It's part of the system."

"And everyone knows it," Nilsson said.

"So what do you all think?" Berger said.

"I like it," Blomkvist said. "We'll be sticking our necks out with that story, and that was the whole point of starting Millennium in the first place."

"That's why I'm still working at the magazine. The publisher has to jump off a cliff every now and then," Nilsson said.

Everyone laughed except Blomkvist.

"He was the only one crazy enough to take on the job of publisher," Berger said. "We're going to run this in May. And your book will come out at the same time."

"Is the book done?" Blomkvist said.

"No. I have the whole outline but only half the text. If you agree to publish the book and give me an advance, then I can work on it full-time. Almost all the research is done. All that's left are some supplementary details - actually just checking stuff I already know - and confronting the johns I'm going to hang out to dry."

"We'll produce it just like the Wennerstrom book. It'll take a week to do the layout" - Malm nodded - "and two weeks to print. We'll complete the confrontations in March and April and sum it all up in a final fifteen-page section. We'll have the manuscript ready by April 15 so we'll have time to go over all the sources."

"How will we work things with the contract and so on?"

"I've drawn up a book contract once before, but I'll probably have to have a talk with our lawyer." Berger frowned. "But I propose a short-term contract from February to May. We don't pay over the odds."

"That's fine with me. I just need a basic salary."

"Otherwise the rule of thumb is fifty-fifty on the earnings from the book after the costs are paid. How does that sound?"

"That sounds damn good," Svensson said.

"Work assignments," Berger said. "Malin, I want you to plan the themed issue. It will be your primary responsibility starting next month; you'll work with Dag and edit the manuscript. Lotta, that means I want you here as temporary editorial assistant for the magazine from March through May. You'll have to go full-time, and Malin or Mikael will back you up as time permits."

Eriksson nodded.

"Mikael, I want you to be the editor of the book." Berger looked at Svensson. "Mikael doesn't let on, but he's actually one hell of a good editor, and he knows research. He'll put each syllable of your book under the microscope. He's going to come down like a hawk on every detail. I'm flattered that you want us to publish your book, but we have special problems at Millennium. We have one or two enemies who want nothing more than for us to go under. If we stick out our necks to publish something like this, it has to be 100 percent accurate. We can't afford anything less."

"And I wouldn't want it any other way."

"Good. But can you put up with having somebody looking over your shoulder and criticizing you every which way all spring?"

Svensson grinned and looked at Blomkvist. "Bring it on."

"If it's going to be a themed issue, we'll need more articles. Mikael - I want you to write about the finances of the sex trade. How much money are we talking about annually? Who makes the money from the sex trade and where does it go? Can we find evidence that some of the money ends up in government coffers? Monika - I want you to check out sexual attacks in general. Talk to the women's shelters and researchers and doctors and welfare people. You two plus Dag will write the supporting articles. Henry - I want an interview with Mia Johansson - Dag can't do it himself. Portrait: Who is she, what is she researching, and what are her conclusions? Then I want you to go in and do case studies from police reports. Christer-pictures. I don't know how we're going to illustrate this. Think about it."

"This is probably the simplest theme of all to illustrate. Arty. No problem."

"Let me add one thing," Svensson said. "There's a small minority on the police force who are doing a hell of a fine job. It might be an idea to interview some of them."

"Have you got any names?" Cortez said.

"Phone numbers too," Svensson said.

"Great," Berger said. "The theme of the May issue is the sex trade. The point we have to make is that trafficking is a crime against human rights and that these criminals must be exposed and treated like war criminals or death squads or torturers anywhere in the world. Now let's get going."


Wednesday, January 12 - Friday, January 14

appelviken felt unfamiliar, even foreign, when for the first time in eighteen months Salander turned into the drive in her rented Nissan Micra. From the age of fifteen she had come twice a year to the nursing home where her mother had been since "All The Evil" had happened. Her mother had spent ten years at appelviken, and it was where she finally died at only forty-six, after one last annihilating cerebral haemorrhage.

The last fourteen years of Agneta Sofia Salander's life had been punctuated by small cerebral haemorrhages which left her unable to take care of herself. Sometimes she had not even been able to recognize her daughter.

Thinking about her mother always pitched Salander into a mood of helplessness and darkness black as night. As a teenager she had cherished the fantasy that her mother would get well and that they would be able to form some sort of relationship. That was her heart thinking. Her head knew that it would never happen.

Her mother had been short and thin, but nowhere near as anorexic-looking as Salander. In fact, her mother had been downright beautiful, and had a lovely figure. Just like Salander's sister, Camilla.

Salander did not want to think about her sister.

For Salander it was an irony of fate that she and her sister were so dramatically dissimilar. They were twins, born within twenty minutes of each other.

Lisbeth was first. Camilla was beautiful.

They were so different that it seemed grossly unlikely that they could have come from the same womb. If something hadn't gone wrong with her genetic code, Lisbeth would have been as radiantly beautiful as her sister. And probably as crazy.

From the time they were little girls Camilla had been outgoing, popular, and successful at school, while Lisbeth had been ungiving and introverted, rarely responding to the teachers' questions. Camilla's grades were very good; Lisbeth's never were. Already in elementary school Camilla had distanced herself from her sister to the point that she would not even take the same route to school that Lisbeth took. Teachers and friends noticed that the two girls never had anything to do with each other, never sat next to each other. From the age of eight they had been in separate classes. When they were twelve and "All The Evil" happened, they had been sent to different foster homes. They had not seen each other since their seventeenth birthday, and that meeting had ended with Lisbeth getting a black eye and Camilla a fat lip. Lisbeth did not know where Camilla was living now, and she hadn't made any attempt to find out.

In Lisbeth's eyes Camilla was insincere, corrupt, and manipulative. But it was Lisbeth whom society had declared incompetent.

She zipped up her leather jacket before she walked through the rain to the main entrance. She stopped at a garden bench and looked around. On this very spot eighteen months ago, she had seen her mother for the last time. She had paid an unscheduled visit to the nursing home when she was on her way north to help Blomkvist in his attempt to track down a serial killer. Her mother had been restless and didn't seem to recognize Salander. She held on tight to her hand and looked at her with a bewildered expression. Salander was in a hurry. She loosened her mother's grip, gave her a hug, and rode away on her motorcycle.

The director of appelviken, Agnes Mikaelsson, greeted her warmly and took her to a storeroom where they found the cardboard box. Salander hefted it. Only five or six pounds. Not much in the way of an inheritance.

"I had a feeling you'd come back someday," Mikaelsson said.

"I've been out of the country," Salander said.

She thanked her for saving the box, carried it back to the car, and left appelviken for the last time.

Salander was back in Mosebacke just after noon. She put her mother's box unopened in a hall closet and left the apartment again.

As she opened the front door a police car drove slowly past. Salander warily observed the presence of the authorities outside her building, but when they showed no sign of interest in her she put them out of her mind.

She went shopping at H&M and KappAhl department stores and bought herself a new wardrobe. She picked up a large assortment of basic clothes in the form of pants, jeans, tops, and socks. She had no interest in expensive designer clothing, but she did enjoy being able to buy half a dozen pairs of jeans at one time without a second thought. Her most extravagant purchases were from Twilfit, where she chose a drawerful of panties and bras. This was basic clothing again, but after half an hour of embarrassed searching she also settled on a set that she thought was sexy, even erotic, and which she would never have dreamed of buying before. When she tried them on that night she felt incredibly foolish. What she saw in the mirror was a thin, tattooed girl in grotesque underwear. She took them off and threw them in the trash.

She also bought herself some winter shoes and two pairs of lighter indoor shoes. Then she bought a pair of black boots with high heels that made her a couple of inches taller. She also found a good winter jacket in brown suede.

She made coffee and a sandwich before she drove the rental car back to its garage near Ringen. She walked home and sat in the dark all evening on her window seat, watching the water in Saltsjon.

Mia Johansson cut the cheesecake and decorated each slice with a scoop of raspberry ice cream. She served Berger and Blomkvist first before she put down plates for Svensson and herself. Eriksson had resolutely resisted dessert and was content with black coffee in an old-fashioned flowered porcelain cup.

"It was my grandmother's china service," said Mia when she saw Eriksson examining the cup.

"She's scared to death that a cup is going to break," Svensson said. "She takes it out only when we have really important guests."

Johansson smiled. "I spent several years with my grandmother when I was a child, and the china is almost all I have left of her."

"They're really beautiful," Eriksson said. "My kitchen is one hundred percent IKEA."