She did not like the situation, but she could not think of any immediate pretext for waking him and scaring the shit out of him.



Johansson woke at 6:30 a.m. She heard the morning TV on low volume from the living room and smelled freshly brewed coffee. She also heard the clacking of keys from Svensson's iBook. She smiled.


She had never seen him work so hard on a story before. Millennium had been a good move. He was often afflicted with writer's block, and it seemed as though hanging out with Blomkvist and Berger and the others was having a beneficial effect on him. He would come home gloomy after Blomkvist had pointed out shortcomings or shot down some of his reasoning, but then he'd work twice as hard.


She wondered whether it was the right moment to interrupt his concentration. Her period was three weeks late. She had not yet taken a pregnancy test. Perhaps it was time.


She would soon turn thirty. In less than a month she had to defend her dissertation. Dr. Johansson. She smiled again and decided not to say anything to Svensson before she was sure. Maybe she would wait until he was finished with his book and she was giving a party after she got her doctorate.


She dozed for ten more minutes before she got up and went into the living room with a sheet wrapped around her. He looked up.


"It's not 7:00 yet," she said.


"Blomkvist is acting superior again."


"Has he been mean to you? Serves you right. You like him, don't you?"


Svensson leaned back in the living-room sofa and met her eyes. After a moment he nodded.


"Millennium is a great place to work. I talked to Mikael at Kvarnen before you picked me up last night. He was wondering what I was going to be doing after this project was finished."


"Aha. And what did you say?"


"That I didn't know. I've hung around as a freelancer for so many years now. I'd be glad of something more steady."


"Millennium."


He nodded.


"Mikael has tested the waters, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in a part-time job. Same contract as Henry Cortez and Lotta Karim are on. I'd get a desk and a retainer from Millennium and could take in the rest on the side."


"Do you want to do that?"


"If they come up with a concrete offer, I'll say yes."


"OK, but it's not 7:00 yet and it's Saturday."


"I know. I just thought I'd polish it up a bit here and there."


"I think you should come back to bed and polish something else."


She smiled at him and turned up a corner of the sheet. He put the computer on standby.


Salander spent a good deal of time over the next few days doing research on her PowerBook. Her search extended in many different directions, and she was not always sure what she was looking for.


Some of the fact collecting was simple. From the Media Archive she put together a history of Svavelsjo MC. The club appeared in newspaper stories going by the name Talje Hog Riders. Police had raided the clubhouse, at that time located in an abandoned schoolhouse outside Sodertalje, when neighbours reported shots fired. The police turned up in astonishing force and broke up a beer-drenched party that had degenerated into a shooting contest with an AK-4, which later turned out to have been stolen from the disbanded I20 regiment in Vasterbotten in the early 1980s.


According to one evening paper, Svavelsjo MC had six or seven members and a dozen hangers-on. All the full members had been in jail. Two stood out. The club leader was Carl-Magnus "Magge" Lundin, who was pictured in Aftonbladet when the police raided the premises in 2001. He had been convicted on five charges of theft, receiving stolen goods, and for drug offences in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of the sentences - for a crime which involved grievous bodily harm - put him away for eighteen months. He was released in 1995 and soon afterwards became president of Talje Hog Riders, now Svavelsjo MC.


According to the police gang unit, the club's number two was Sonny Nieminen, now thirty-seven years old, who had run up no fewer than twenty-three convictions. He had started his career at the age of sixteen when he was put on probation and in institutional care for assault and battery and theft. Over the next ten years he was convicted on five counts of theft, one of aggravated theft, two of unlawful intimidation, two narcotics offences, extortion, assault on a civil servant, two counts of possessing an illegal weapon, one criminal weapons charge, driving under the influence, and six counts of assault. He had been sentenced according to a scale that was incomprehensible to Salander: probation, fines, and repeated stints of thirty to sixty days in jail, until 1989 when he was put away for ten months for aggravated assault and robbery. He was out a few months later and kept his nose clean until October 1990. Then he got into a fight in a bar in Sodertalje and ended up with a conviction for manslaughter and a six-year prison sentence. He was out by 1995.


In 1996 he was arrested as an accessory to an armed robbery. He had provided three of the robbers with weapons. He was sentenced to four years and released in 1999. According to a newspaper article from 2001 in which Nieminen was not named - but where the details of the suspect were such that he was effectively identified - he looked more than likely to have played his part in the murder of a member of a rival gang.


Salander downloaded the mug shots of Nieminen and Lundin. Nieminen had a photogenic face with dark curly hair and dangerous eyes. Lundin just looked like a complete idiot, and was without doubt the man who had met the giant at Blomberg's Cafe. Nieminen was the man waiting in McDonald's.


Via the national vehicle register she traced the white Volvo to the car rental firm Auto-Expert in Eskilstuna. She dialled their number and spoke to a Refik Alba:


"My name is Gunilla Hansson. My dog was run over yesterday by someone who just drove off. The bastard was driving a car from your firm - I could tell from the licence plate. A white Volvo." She gave the number.


"I'm so sorry."


"That's not enough, I'm afraid. I want the name of the driver so that I can sue him."


"Have you reported the matter to the police?"


"No, I'd like to settle it directly."


"I'm sorry, but I can't give out the names of our clients unless a police report has been filed."


Salander's voice darkened. She asked whether it was good practice to oblige her to report the company's clients to the police force instead of resolving matters with much less trouble. Refik Alba apologized once more and repeated that he was powerless to circumvent company rules.


***


The name Zala was another dead end. With two breaks for Billy's Pan Pizza, Salander spent most of the day at her computer with only a big bottle of Coca-Cola for company.


She found hundreds of Zalas - from an Italian athlete to a composer in Argentina. But she did not find the one she was looking for.


She tried Zalachenko, but that was a dead end too.


Frustrated, she stumbled into bed and slept for twelve hours straight. When she woke it was 11:00 a.m. She put on some coffee and ran a bath in the Jacuzzi. She poured in bubble bath and brought coffee and sandwiches for breakfast. She wished that she had Mimmi to keep her company, but she still had not even told her where she lived.


At noon she got out of the bath, towelled herself dry, and put on a bathrobe. She turned on the computer again.


The names Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson yielded better results. Via Google's search engine she was able to quickly put together a brief summary of what they had been up to in recent years. She downloaded copies of some of Svensson's articles and found a photographic byline of him. No great surprise that he was the man she had seen with Blomkvist at Kvarnen. The name had been given a face, and vice versa.


She found several texts about or by Mia Johansson. She had first come to the media's attention with a report on the different treatment received by men and women at the hands of the law. There had been a number of editorials and articles in women's organizations' newsletters. Johansson herself had written several more articles. Salander read attentively. Some feminists found Johansson's conclusions significant, others criticized her for "spreading bourgeois illusions."


At 2:00 in the afternoon she went into Asphyxia 1.3, but instead of MikBlom/laptop she selected MikBlom/office, Blomkvist's desktop computer at Millennium. She knew from experience that his office computer contained hardly anything of interest. Apart from the fact that he sometimes used it to surf the Net, he worked almost exclusively on his iBook. But he did have administrator rights for the whole Millennium office. She quickly found what she was looking for: the password for Millennium's internal network.


To get into other computers at Millennium, the mirrored hard drive on the server in Holland was not sufficient. The original of MikBlom/office also had to be on and connected to the internal computer network. She was in luck. Blomkvist was apparently at work and had his desktop on. She waited ten minutes but could not see any sign of activity, which she took to indicate that he had turned on the computer when he came into the office and had possibly used it to surf the Net, then left it on while he did something else or used his laptop.


This had to be done carefully. During the next hour Salander hacked cautiously from one computer to another and downloaded email from Berger, Malm, and an employee whose name she did not recognize, Malin Eriksson. Finally she located Svensson's desktop. According to the system information it was an older Macintosh PowerPC with a hard disk of only 750 MB, so it must be a leftover that was probably only used for word processing by occasional freelancers. It was linked to the computer network, which meant that Svensson was in Millennium's editorial offices right now. She downloaded his email and searched his hard drive. She found a folder with the short but sweet name.


The blond giant had just picked up 203,000 kronor in cash, which was an unexpectedly large sum for the three kilos of methamphetamine he had delivered to Lundin in late January. It was a tidy profit for a few hours of practical work - collecting the meth from the courier, storing it for a while, making delivery to Lundin, and then taking 50 percent of the profit. Svavelsjo MC could turn over that amount every month, and Lundin's gang was only one of three such operations - the other two were around Goteborg and Malmo. Together the gangs brought him roughly half a million kronor in profit every month.


And yet he was in such a bad mood that he pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. He had not slept for thirty hours and was feeling fuzzy. He got out to stretch his legs and take a piss. The night was cool and the stars were bright. He was not far from Jarna.


The conflict he was having was almost ideological in nature. The potential supply of methamphetamine was limitless within a radius of 250 miles from Stockholm. The demand was indisputably huge. The rest was logistics - how to transport the product from point A to point B, or to be more precise, from a cellar workshop in Tallinn to the Free Port in Stockholm.


This was a recurring problem - how to guarantee regular transport from Estonia to Sweden? In fact it was the main problem and the weak link, since after several years he was still improvising every time. And fuckups had been all too frequent lately. He was proud of his ability to organize. He had built up a well-oiled network cultivated with equal portions of carrot and stick. He was the one who had done the legwork, cemented partnerships, negotiated deals, and made sure that the deliveries got to the right place.


The carrot was the incentive offered to subcontractors like Lundin - a solid and relatively risk-free profit. The system was a good one. Lundin did not have to lift a finger to get the goods - no stressful buying trips or dealings with people who could be anyone from the drug squad to the Russian mafia. Lundin knew that the giant would deliver and then collect his 50 percent.


The stick was for when complications arose. A gabby street dealer who had found out far too much about the supply chain had almost implicated Svavelsjo MC. He had been forced to get involved and punish the guy.


He was good at dealing out punishment.


But the operation was becoming too burdensome to oversee.


He lit a cigarette and stretched his legs against a gate into a field.


Methamphetamine was a discreet and easy-to-manage source of income - big profits, small risks. Weapons were risky, and considering the risks they were simply not good business.


Occasionally industrial espionage or smuggling electronic components to Eastern Europe - even though the market had dropped off in recent years - was justifiable.


Whores from the Baltics, on the other hand, were an entirely unsatisfactory investment. The business was small change, and liable at any time to set off hypocritical screeds in the media and debates in that strange political entity called the Swedish parliament. The one advantage was that everybody likes a whore - prosecutors, judges, policemen, even an occasional member of parliament. Nobody was going to dig too deep to bring that business down.


Even a dead whore would not necessarily cause a political uproar. If the police could catch a suspect within a few hours who still had bloodstains on his clothes, then a conviction would follow and the murderer would spend several years in prison or some other obscure institution. But if no suspect was found within forty-eight hours, the police would soon enough find more important things to investigate, as he knew from experience.


He did not like the trade in whores, though. He did not like them at all, their makeup-plastered faces and shrill, drunken laughter. They were unclean. And there was always the risk that one of them would get the idea she could seek asylum or start blabbing to the police or to reporters. Then he would have to take matters into his own hands and mete out punishment. And if the revelation was blatant enough, prosecutors and police would be forced to act - otherwise parliament really would wake up and pay attention. The whore business sucked.


The brothers Atho and Harry Ranta were typical: two useless parasites who had found out way too much about the business. Most of all he would like to tie them up with chains and dump them in the harbour. Instead he had driven them to the Estonia ferry and patiently waited until it sailed. Their little vacation was the result of some fucking reporter sticking his nose into their business, and it was decided that they had better make themselves scarce.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com