"Can you take me?"
"What are little sisters for?"
"If you give me a lift out to Nacka I can take a taxi from there or wait for a bus."
"Nonsense. Jump in and I'll drive you."
Maundy Thursday, March 24
Annika Giannini was exhausted too, and Blomkvist managed to persuade her to save herself the hour-long detour round the Lannersta Sound and drop him off in Nacka. He kissed her on the cheek, thanked her for all her help, and waited until she had turned the car and driven off before he called a taxi.
It was two years since Blomkvist had been to Saltsjobaden. He had only been to Berger's house a few times. He supposed that was a sign of immaturity.
Exactly how her marriage with Greger Beckman functioned, he had no idea. He had known Berger since the early eighties. He planned to go on having a relationship with her until he was too old to get out of his wheelchair. They had broken it off in the late eighties when both he and Berger had met and married other people. The hiatus had lasted little more than a year.
In Blomkvist's case the consequence of his infidelity was a divorce. For Berger it led to Beckman's conceding that their long-term sexual passion was evidently so strong that it would be unreasonable to believe that mere convention could keep them apart. Nor did he propose to lose Berger the way that Blomkvist had lost his wife.
When Berger admitted having an affair, Beckman knocked on Blomkvist's door. Blomkvist had been dreading his visit, but instead of punching him in the face, Beckman had suggested they go out for a drink. They hit three bars in Sodermalm before they were sufficiently tipsy to have a serious conversation, which took place on a park bench in Mariatorget around sunrise.
At first Blomkvist was sceptical, but Beckman eventually convinced him that if he tried to sabotage his marriage to Berger, he could expect to see Beckman come back sober with a baseball bat, but if it was simply physical desire and the soul's inability to rein itself in, that was OK as far as he was concerned.
So Blomkvist and Berger had taken up again, with Beckman's blessing and without trying to hide anything from him. All Berger had to do was pick up the telephone and tell him she was spending the night with Blomkvist when the spirit moved her, which it did with some regularity.
Beckman had never uttered a word of criticism against Blomkvist. On the contrary, he seemed to regard his relationship with his wife as beneficial; and his love for her was deepened because he knew he could never take her for granted.
Blomkvist, on the other hand, had never felt entirely at ease in Beckman's company - a dreary reminder that even liberated relationships had a price. Accordingly, he had been to Saltsjobaden only on the few occasions when Berger had hosted parties where his absence would have been remarked on.
Now he stood at the door of their substantial villa. Despite his uneasiness about bringing bad news, he resolutely put his finger on the doorbell and held it there for about forty seconds until he heard footsteps. Beckman opened the door with a towel wrapped around his waist and his face full of bleary anger that changed to astonishment when he saw his wife's lover.
"Hi, Greger," Blomkvist said.
"Good morning, Blomkvist. What the hell time is it?"
Beckman was blond and thin. He had a lot of hair on his chest and hardly any on his head. He had a week's growth of beard and a prominent scar over his right eyebrow, the result of a sailing accident some years before.
"Just after 5:00," Blomkvist said. "Could you wake Erika? I have to talk to her."
Beckman took it that since Blomkvist had all of a sudden overcome his reluctance to visit Saltsjobaden - and at that hour - something out of the ordinary must have happened. Besides, the man looked as if he badly needed a drink, or at least a bed so that he could sleep off whatever it was. Beckman held the door open and let him in.
Before Blomkvist could reply, Berger appeared at the top of the stairs, tying the sash of a white terry-cloth bathrobe. She stopped halfway down when she saw Blomkvist in the hall.
"Dag and Mia," Blomkvist said.
His face instantly revealed the news he had come to give her.
"No." She put a hand to her mouth.
"They were murdered last night. I just came from the police station."
"Murdered?" Berger and Beckman said at the same time.
"Somebody got into their apartment in Enskede and shot them. I was the one who found them."
Berger sat down on the stairs.
"I didn't want you to have to hear it on the morning news," Blomkvist said.
It was 6:59 a.m. on Maundy Thursday as Blomkvist and Berger let themselves into the Millennium offices. Berger had woken Malm and Eriksson with the news that Svensson and Johansson had been killed the night before. They lived much closer and had already arrived for the meeting. The coffeemaker was going in the kitchenette.
"What the hell is happening?" Malm wanted to know.
Eriksson shushed him and turned up the volume on the 7:00 a.m. news.
Two people, a man and a woman, were shot dead late last night in an apartment in Enskede. The police say that it was a double homicide. Neither of the deceased was previously known to the police. The motive for the murders is still unknown. Our reporter Hanna Olofsson is at the scene.
"It was just before midnight when the police received a report of shots fired in an apartment building on Bjorneborgsvagen here in Enskede. No suspect has yet been arrested. The police have cordoned off the apartment and a crime scene investigation is under way."
"That was pretty succinct," Eriksson said and turned the volume down. Then she started to cry. Berger put an arm around her shoulders. "Jesus Christ," Malm said to no-one in particular. "Sit down, everyone," Berger said in a firm voice. "Mikael... " Blomkvist told them what he knew of what had happened. He spoke in a dull monotone and sounded like the radio reporter when he described how he had found Svensson and Johansson.
"Jesus Christ," Malm said again. "This is crazy."
Eriksson was once more overwhelmed by emotion. She began weeping again and made no attempt to hide her tears.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"I feel the same way," said Malm.
Blomkvist wondered why he could not cry. He felt only a huge emptiness, almost as if he were anesthetized.
"What we know this morning doesn't amount to very much," Berger said. "We have to discuss two things: first, we're three weeks from going to press with Dag's material; should we still publish it? Can we publish it? That's one thing. The other is a question that Mikael and I discussed on the way here."
"We don't know the motive for the murders," Blomkvist said. "It could be something to do with Dag and Mia's private life, or it could be a purely senseless act, but we can't rule out that it may have had something to do with what they were working on."
A long silence settled around the table.
At last Blomkvist cleared his throat. "As I said, we're about to publish a story in which we name people who are extremely anxious not to be identified in this connection. Dag started with the confrontations several weeks ago. I'm thinking that if one of them -"
"Wait," Eriksson said. "We're exposing three policemen, at least one of whom works for Sapo and another on the vice squad. Then there are several lawyers, one prosecutor, one judge, and a couple of dirty-old-men journalists. Could one of them have killed two people to prevent the publication?"
"Well, I don't know the answer to that," Blomkvist said. "They all have a hell of a lot to lose, but they're damn stupid if they thought they could quash a story like this by murdering a journalist. But we're also exposing a number of pimps, and even if we use fictitious names it wouldn't be hard to figure out who they are. Some of them already have records for violent crimes."
"OK," Malm said. "But you're making the murders out to be executions. If I'm reading Svensson's story correctly, we're not talking about very bright people. Are they up to pulling off a double murder and getting away with it?"
"How bright do you have to be to fire two shots?" Eriksson said.
"We're speculating here about something we know practically nothing about," Berger broke in. "But we do have to ask the question. If suppressing Dag's articles - or Mia's dissertation, for that matter - was the motive for the murders, then we have to beef up security here in the office."
"And a third question," Eriksson said. "Should we go to the police with the names? What did you tell the police last night, Mikael?"
"I told them what Dag was working on, but they didn't ask for details and I didn't give any names."
"We probably should," Berger said.
"It's not quite that simple," Blomkvist said. "We could give them a list of names, but what do we do if the police start asking questions about how we got hold of them? We can't reveal any source who wants to remain anonymous. And that's certainly true of several of the girls Mia talked to."
"What a fucking mess," Berger said. "We're back to the original question - should we publish?"
Blomkvist held up his hand. "Wait. We could take a vote on this, but I happen to be the publisher who's responsible, and for the first time I think I'll make a decision all on my own. The answer is no. We can't publish this material in the next issue. It's unreasonable for us simply to go ahead according to plan."
Silence descended over the table.
"I really want to publish, obviously, but we are going to have to rewrite quite a bit. It was Dag and Mia who had the documentation, and the story was based on the fact that Mia intended to file a police report against the people we were going to name. She had expert knowledge. Have we got any information on this?"
The front door slammed and Cortez stood in the doorway.
"Is it Dag and Mia?" he asked, out of breath.
They all nodded.
"Christ. This is crazy."
"How did you hear about it?" Blomkvist said.
"I was on my way home with my girlfriend when we heard it on a taxi radio. The police have been asking for information on fares going to their street. I didn't recognize the address. I had to come in."
Cortez looked so shaken that Berger got up and gave him a hug and asked him to join them at the table.
"I think Dag would want us to publish his story," she said.
"And I agree that we should. Definitely the book. But under the circumstances, we'll have to push back the publication date."
"So what do we do?" Eriksson said. "It's not just one article that has to be switched - it's a whole themed issue. The whole magazine has to be remade."
Berger was quiet for a moment, then gave her first tired smile of the day.
"Had you planned to take Easter off, Malin?" she said. "Well, forget it. This is what we'll do... Malin, you and I - and Christer - will sit down and plan a new issue without Dag's material. We'll have to see if we can pry loose a few articles that we'd planned for June. Mikael, how much material did you get from Dag?"
"I've got final versions of nine out of twelve chapters. I have drafts of chapters ten and eleven. Dag was going to email me the final versions - I'll check my inbox - but I only have an outline of chapter twelve. That's the summary and the conclusions."
"But you and Dag had talked through every one of the chapters, right?"
"Yes, and I know what he was planning to write in the last chapter, if that's what you mean."
"OK, you'll have to sit down with the manuscripts - both the book and the articles. I want to know how much is missing and whether we can write whatever Dag didn't manage to deliver. Could you do an objective assessment today?"
"I also need you to think about what we're going to tell the police. What is within limits and at what point do we risk breaking our confidentiality agreement with our sources. Nobody at Millennium should say anything to anyone outside the magazine without your approval."
"That sounds good," Blomkvist said.
"How likely do you think it is that Dag's book was the motive for the murders?"
"Or Mia's dissertation... I don't know. But we can't rule it out."
"No, we can't. You'll have to keep it together."
"Keep what together?"
"Our investigation, damn it." Berger suddenly raised her voice. "Dag was a journalist and he was working for Millennium. If he was killed because of his job, I want to know about it. So we - as an editorial team - are going to have to dig into what happened. You'll take care of that part, looking for a motive for the murders in all the material Dag gave us." She turned to Eriksson. "Malin, if you help me outline a new issue today, then Christer and I will do the draft layout. But you've worked a lot with Dag and on other articles in the themed issue. I want you to keep an eye on developments in the murder investigation alongside Mikael."
"Henry... can you work today?"
"Start by calling the rest of our staff and tell them what's going on. Then go to the police and find out what's happening. Ask them if there's going to be a press conference or anything. We have to stay on top of the news."
"I'll call everyone first. Then I'll run home and take a shower. I'll be back in forty-five minutes."