He was aware that Bublanski was watching him closely. Like Armansky, Blomkvist had to make a choice. Sooner or later he would have to decide which corner of the ring he was going to be in if Salander was accused of murder. Guilty or not guilty?



Before he managed to say anything, the telephone on Berger's desk rang. She picked it up, listened, then handed the receiver to Bublanski.


"Somebody called Faste wants to speak to you."


Bublanski took the receiver and listened attentively. Blomkvist and Berger could see his expression change.


"When are they going in?"


Silence.


"What's the address again? Lundagatan. And the number? OK. I'm in the vicinity. I'll drive there."


Bublanski stood up.


"Excuse me, but I'll have to cut this conversation short. Salander's guardian has just been found shot dead. She's now being formally charged, in absentia, with three murders."


Berger's mouth dropped open. Blomkvist looked as if he had been struck by lightning.


The occupation of the apartment on Lundagatan was an uncomplicated procedure from a tactical perspective. Faste and Andersson leaned on the hood of their car keeping watch while the armed response team, supplied with backup weapons, occupied the stairwell and took control of the building and the rear courtyard.


The team swiftly confirmed what Faste and Andersson already knew. No-one opened the door when they rang the bell.


Faste looked down Lundagatan, which was blocked off from Zinkensdamm to Hogalid Church, to the great annoyance of the passengers on the number 66 bus.


One bus had been stuck inside the barriers on the hill and could not go forward or back. Eventually Faste went over and ordered a patrolman to step aside and let the bus through. A large number of onlookers were watching the commotion from upper Lundagatan.


"There has to be a simpler way," Faste said.


"Simpler than what?" Andersson said.


"Simpler than sending in the storm troopers every time a stray hooligan has to be brought in."


Andersson refrained from commenting.


"After all, she's less than five feet tall and weighs about ninety pounds."


It had been decided that it was not necessary to break down the door with a sledgehammer. Bublanski joined them as they waited for a locksmith to drill out the lock, and then he stepped aside so that the troops could enter the apartment. It took about eight seconds to eyeball the 500 square feet and confirm that Salander was not hiding under the bed, in the bathroom, or in a wardrobe. Then Bublanski was given the all clear to come in.


The three detectives looked with curiosity around the impeccably kept and tastefully furnished apartment. The furniture was simple. The kitchen chairs were painted in different pastel colours. There were attractive black-and-white photographs in frames on the walls. In the hall was a shelf with a CD player and a large collection of CDs. Everything from hard rock to opera. It all looked arty. Elegant. Tasteful.


Andersson inspected the kitchen and found nothing out of the ordinary. He looked through a stack of newspapers and checked the counter-top, the cupboards, and the freezer in the refrigerator.


Faste opened the wardrobes and the drawers of the chest in the bedroom. He whistled when he found handcuffs and a number of sex toys. In the wardrobe he found some latex clothing that his mother would have been embarrassed even to look at.


"There's been a party here," he said out loud, holding up a patent-leather outfit that according to the label was designed by Domino Fashion - whatever that was.


Bublanski looked in the desk in the hall, where he found a small pile of unopened letters addressed to Salander. He looked through the pile and saw that they were bills and bank statements, and one personal letter. It was from Mikael Blomkvist. So far, Blomkvist's story held up. Then he bent down and picked up the mail on the doormat, stained with footprints from the armed response team. It consisted of a magazine, Thai Pro Boxing, the free newspaper Sodermalm News, and three envelopes addressed to Miriam Wu.


Bublanski was struck by an unpleasant suspicion. He went into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. He found a box of paracetamol painkillers and a half-full tube of Citodon, paracetamol with codeine. Citodon was a prescription drug. The medicine was prescribed for Miriam Wu. There was one toothbrush in the medicine cabinet.


"Faste, why does it say SALANDER-WU on the door?" he said.


"No idea."


"OK, let me put it this way - why is there mail on the doormat addressed to a Miriam Wu, and why is there a prescription tube of Citodon in the medicine cabinet made out to Miriam Wu? Why is there only one toothbrush? And why - when you consider that Lisbeth Salander is, according to our information, only one hand's breadth tall - do those leather pants you're holding up fit a person who is at least five foot eight?"


There was a brief, embarrassed silence in the apartment. It was broken by Andersson.


"Shit," he said.


CHAPTER 15


Maundy Thursday, March 24


Malm felt drained and miserable when he finally got home after the unplanned day at work. He smelled the aroma of something spicy from the kitchen and went in and hugged his boyfriend.


"How are you feeling?" Arnold Magnusson asked.


"Like a sack of shit."


"I've been hearing about it on the news all day long. They haven't released the names yet. But it sounds fucking awful."


"It is fucking awful. Dag worked for us. He was a friend and I liked him a lot. I didn't know his girlfriend, but both Micke and Erika did."


Malm looked around the kitchen. They had moved into the apartment on Allhelgonagatan only three months ago. Suddenly it felt like another world.


The telephone rang. They looked at each other and decided to ignore it. Then the answering machine switched on and they heard a familiar voice.


"Christer. Are you there? Pick up."


It was Berger calling to tell him that the police were now looking for Blomkvist's former researcher, who was the prime suspect for the murders of Svensson and Johansson.


Malm received the news with a sense of unreality.


Cortez had missed the commotion on Lundagatan for the simple reason that he had been standing outside the police press office at Kungsholmen the whole time, from which no news had been released since the press conference earlier that afternoon.


He was tired, hungry, and annoyed at being ignored by the people he was trying to contact. Not until 6:00, when the raid at Salander's apartment was over, did he pick up a rumour that the police had a suspect in the investigation. The tip came from a colleague at an evening paper. But Cortez soon managed to find out Prosecutor Ekstrom's mobile phone number. He introduced himself and asked his questions about who, how, and why.


"What newspaper did you say you were from?" Ekstrom said.


"Millennium magazine. I knew one of the victims. I understand that the police are looking for a specific person. Can you confirm this?"


"I can't comment at present."


"Can you say when you will be able to provide some concrete information?"


"We may well call another press conference later this evening."


Ekstrom sounded evasive. Cortez tugged on the gold ring in his ear-lobe.


"Press conferences are for reporters who have immediate deadlines. I work for a monthly magazine, and we have a very special personal interest in knowing what progress is being made."


"I can't help you. You'll have to be patient like everyone else."


"According to my source it's a woman who is wanted for questioning. Who is she?"


"I can't comment just now."


"Can you confirm that you're searching for a woman?"


"I'm not going to confirm or deny anything at all. Goodbye."


Holmberg stood in the doorway of the bedroom and contemplated the huge pool of blood on the floor where Mia Johansson had been found. He turned and could see a similar pool of blood where Svensson had lain. He pondered the extensive blood loss. It was a lot more blood than he was used to finding at shootings; Supervisor MÃ¥rtensson had been correct in his assessment that the killer had used hunting ammo. The blood had coagulated in a black and rusty-brown mass that covered so much of the floor that the ambulance personnel and technical team had to walk through it, leaving footprints throughout the apartment. Holmberg was wearing gym shoes with blue plastic booties over them.


The real crime scene investigation began, in his view, now. The bodies of the victims had been removed. Holmberg was there by himself after the two remaining techs had said goodnight and left. They had photographed the victims and measured blood splatter on the walls and conferred about "splatter distribution areas" and "droplet velocity." Holmberg had not paid much attention to the technical examination. The crime scene techs' findings would be compiled in a report which would reveal in detail where the killer had stood in relation to his victims, and at what distance, in which order the shots had been fired, and which fingerprints might be of interest. But for Holmberg it was of no interest at all. The technical examination would not contain a syllable about who the killer was or what motive he or she - a woman was now the prime suspect - might have had for the murders. Those were the questions he now had to try to answer.


Holmberg went into the bedroom. He put a worn briefcase on a chair and took out a Dictaphone, a digital camera, and a notebook.


He began by going through the chest of drawers behind the bedroom door. The top two drawers contained women's underwear, sweaters, and a jewellery box. He arranged each object on the bed and scrutinized the jewellery box. He did not think it contained any pieces of great value. In the bottom drawer he found two photograph albums and two folders containing household accounts. He turned on his tape recorder.


"Confiscation protocol for Bjorneborgsvagen 8B. Bedroom, chest of drawers, bottom bureau drawer. Two bound photograph albums, size A4. One folder with black spine marked HOUSEHOLD and one folder with blue spine marked FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS containing information about a mortgage and loans for the apartment. A small box containing handwritten letters, postcards, and personal items."


He carried the objects to the hall and placed them in a suitcase. He continued with the drawers in the bedside tables on each side of the double bed, finding nothing of interest. He opened the wardrobes and sorted through clothes, feeling in each pocket and in the shoes to check for any forgotten or hidden objects, and then turned his attention to the shelves at the top of the wardrobes. He opened boxes and small storage containers. Every so often he found papers or items that he would include for various reasons in the confiscation inventory.


There was a desk in one corner of the bedroom. It was a very small home office with a desktop Compaq computer and an old monitor. Under the desk was a two-drawer filing cabinet and on the floor next to the desk stood a low shelf unit. Holmberg knew that it would be in this home office that he would probably make the most important finds - to the extent that there was anything to find - and so he saved the desk for last. Instead he went into the living room and continued the crime scene inspection. He opened the glass-fronted cabinet and examined each bowl, each drawer, each shelf. Then he turned his attention to the large bookcase along the outer wall and the wall of the bathroom. He took a chair and began at the top, checking whether anything was hidden on top of the bookcase. Then he went down it shelf by shelf, quickly picking out stacks of books and going through them, also checking whether anything was concealed behind them on the shelves. After forty-five minutes he put the last book back on the shelf. On the living-room table was a neat stack of books. He turned on the tape recorder.


"From the bookcase in the living room. A book by Mikael Blomkvist, The Mafia's Banker. A book in German entitled Der Staat und die Autonomen, a book in Swedish with the title Revolutionary Terrorism, and an English book Islamic Jihad."


He included the book by Blomkvist because its author had turned up in the preliminary investigation. The last three works were perhaps less obvious. Holmberg had no idea whether the murders were related to any form of political activity - or indeed whether Svensson or Johansson was politically involved - or whether the books were merely indicative of a general interest in politics as part of their academic or journalistic work. On the other hand, if two dead bodies were found in an apartment where there were books about terrorism, he was going to make note of the fact. He placed the books in the suitcase with the other items.


Then he looked through the drawers in an antique desk. On top of the desk was a CD player, and the drawers contained a great number of CDs. Holmberg spent half an hour opening every CD case and verifying that the contents matched the cover. He found about ten CDs that had no label, and were probably burned at home or possibly pirated copies; he inserted the ones without labels into the CD player to check that they were not storing anything besides music. He examined the TV shelf nearest the bedroom door, where there was a large collection of video-cassettes. He test-played several of them. They seemed to be everything from action movies to a hodgepodge of taped news programmes and reports from Cold Facts, Insider, and Assignment Scrutiny. He added thirty-six videocassettes to the inventory. Then he went to the kitchen, opened a thermos of coffee, and took a short break before he went on with his search.


From a shelf in a kitchen cupboard he gathered a number of jars and medicine bottles. They too were placed in a plastic bag and added to the confiscated material. He picked out foodstuffs from the pantry and refrigerator and opened every jar, coffee package, and recorked bottle. In a pot sitting on the windowsill he found 1,220 kronor plus some receipts. From the bathroom he took nothing, but he did observe that the laundry basket was overflowing. He went through all the clothing. He took coats out of a closet in the hall and searched in every pocket.

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