Both men gave Armansky a sceptical look.

"I want you, Fraklund, to lead and keep track of the investigation. I want to know what happened and what would have induced Salander to murder her guardian as well as the couple in Enskede. There has to be a rational explanation."

"Forgive my saying so, but this sounds like a job for the police," Fraklund said.

"No question," Armansky shot back. "But we have an advantage over the police. We knew Salander, and we have an insight into how she functions."

"Well, if you say so," Bohman said, sounding unsure. "I don't believe anyone here at the firm has any idea what went on in her little head."

"That doesn't matter," Armansky said. "Salander worked for Milton Security. In my view, we have a responsibility to establish the truth."

"Salander hasn't worked for us in...  what is it, almost two years," Fraklund said. "I don't see us as responsible for what she may have done. And I don't think the police would appreciate it if we interfered in their investigation."

"On the contrary," Armansky said. This was his trump card, and he had to play it well.

"How's that?" Bohman wondered.

"Yesterday I had a couple of long conversations with the preliminary investigation leader, Prosecutor Ekstrom, and Criminal Inspector Bublanski, who's in charge of the investigation. Ekstrom is under pressure. This isn't some sort of showdown among gangsters; it's an event with enormous media potential in which a lawyer, a criminologist, and a journalist were all - it would appear - executed. I explained that since the prime suspect is a former employee of Milton Security, we have also decided to start an investigation of our own." Armansky paused to let this sink in before going on. "Ekstrom and I agree that the important thing right now is for Lisbeth Salander to be taken into custody as rapidly as possible - before she causes any more harm to herself or to others. Since we have more knowledge of her than the police do, we can contribute to the investigation. Ekstrom and I decided that you two" - he pointed at Bohman and Hedstrom - "will move over to Kungsholmen and be seconded to Bublanski's team."

All three of his employees looked astonished.

"Pardon me for asking a simple question...  but we're only civilians," Bohman said. "Do the police really intend to let us into a murder investigation, just like that?"

"You'll be working under Bublanski, but you'll also report to me. You will be given full access to the investigation. All the material we have and that you turn up will go to Bublanski. For the police, this means that his team will get free reinforcements. And none of you are 'only civilians.' You two, Fraklund and Bohman, worked for the police for longer than you've worked here, and even you, Hedstrom, went to the police academy."

"But it's against the principles -"

"Not at all. The police often bring civilian consultants into investigations, whether psychologists in sex crimes or interpreters where foreigners are involved. You will simply participate as civilian consultants with particular knowledge of the prime suspect."

Fraklund nodded slowly. "OK. Milton is joining the police investigation and trying to help catch Salander. Anything else?"

"Yes. Your principal assignment as far as Milton is concerned is to establish the truth. Nothing else. I want to know if Salander shot these three people - and if so, why."

"Is there any doubt about her guilt?" asked Hedstrom.

"The circumstantial evidence the police hold is very damaging to her. But I want to know whether there's another side to the story - whether there's some accomplice we don't know about, someone who may have been the one actually holding the gun, or whether there are any other as yet unknown circumstances."

"It's going to be hard work to find mitigating circumstances in a triple murder," Fraklund said. "If that's what we're looking for, we'd have to suppose there's a possibility she's innocent. And I don't believe that."

"I don't either," Armansky said. "But your work will be to assist the police in every way and to help them take her into custody in the shortest time possible."

"Budget?" Fraklund said.

"Open. I want to be regularly updated on what this is costing, and if it gets out of hand we'll shut it down. But assume that you'll be on this for a week at least, starting today. And since I'm the one here who knows Salander best, I should be one of the people you interview."

Modig hurtled down the corridor and made it into the conference room just as her colleagues had settled in their seats. She sat down next to Bublanski, who had gathered the whole investigative team for this meeting, including the preliminary investigation leader. Faste gave her an annoyed look and then took care of the introduction; he was the one who had asked for the meeting.

He had gone on burrowing through the years of confrontation between the social welfare bureaucracy and Salander - what he called the "psychopath trail" - and he had managed to assemble quite a body of material. He cleared his throat and turned to the man on his right.

"This is Dr. Peter Teleborian, head physician at St.Stefan's Psychiatric Clinic in Uppsala. He has been good enough to come down to Stockholm to assist in the investigation and to tell us what he knows about Lisbeth Salander."

Modig studied Dr. Teleborian. He was a short man with curly brown hair, steel-rimmed glasses, and a small goatee. He was casually dressed in a beige corduroy jacket, jeans, and a light-blue striped shirt buttoned at the neck. His features were sharp and his appearance boyish. Modig had come across Dr. Teleborian on several occasions but had never spoken to him. He had given a lecture on psychiatric disturbances when she was in her last term at the police academy, and on another occasion at a course he had spoken about psychopaths and psychopathic behaviour in young people. She had also attended the trial of a serial rapist when Teleborian was called as an expert witness. Dr. Teleborian was one of the best-known psychiatrists in Sweden. He had made a name for himself with his tough criticism of the cutbacks in psychiatric care that had resulted in the closure of mental hospitals. People who were obviously in need of care had been abandoned to the streets, doomed to become homeless welfare cases. Since the assassination of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh[2], Dr. Teleborian had been a member of the government commission that reported on the decline in psychiatric care.

Teleborian nodded to the group and poured mineral water into his plastic cup.

"We'll have to see whether there's anything I can contribute," he began cautiously. "I hate being right in my predictions in situations like this."

"Your predictions?" Bublanski said.

"Yes. It's ironic. On the evening of the murders in Enskede, I was on a TV panel discussing the time bomb that's ticking almost everywhere in our society. It's terrible. I wasn't thinking specifically of Lisbeth Salander just then, but I gave a number of examples - with pseudonyms, of course - of patients who quite simply ought to be in institutions rather than at liberty on our streets. I would surmise that during this year alone the police will have to solve half a dozen murder or manslaughter cases where the killer is among this small group of patients."

"And you think that Lisbeth Salander is one of these loonies?" Faste asked.

"Loony isn't a term we would use. Yet she is without doubt one of these frayed individuals that I would not have let out into society, were it up to me."

"Are you saying that she should have been locked up before she committed a crime?" Modig asked. "That doesn't really accord with the principles of a society governed by the rule of law."

Faste frowned and gave her a dirty look. Modig wondered why Faste always seemed so hostile towards her.

"You're perfectly right," Teleborian said, inadvertently coming to her rescue. "It's not compatible with a society based on the rule of law, at least not in its present form. It's a balancing act between respect for the individual and respect for the potential victims that a mentally ill person may leave in his wake. Every case is different, and each patient must be treated on an individual basis. It's inevitable that we in the psychiatric field also make mistakes and release people who shouldn't be out on the streets."

"Well, I don't think we need to go into social politics in great depth here," Bublanski said cautiously.

"Of course," Teleborian said. "We're dealing with a specific case. But let me just say that it's important for you all to understand that Lisbeth Salander is a sick person in need of care, just as any patient with a toothache or heart disease is in need of care. She can still get well, and she would have gotten well if she had received the care she needed when she was still treatable."

"So you weren't her doctor," Faste said.

"I'm one of many people who was involved with Lisbeth Salander's case. She was my patient in her early teens, and I was one of the doctors who evaluated her before it was decided to place her under guardianship when she turned eighteen."

"Could you give us a little background about her?" Bublanski asked. "What could have made her murder two people she didn't know, and what could have made her murder her guardian?"

Dr. Teleborian laughed.

"No, I can't tell you that. I haven't followed her development in several years, and I don't know what stage of psychosis she's in at present. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the couple in Enskede had to have been known to her."

"What makes you so sure?" Faste wanted to know.

"One of the failures in the treatment of Lisbeth Salander was that no complete diagnosis was ever established for her. That was because she was not receptive to treatment. She invariably refused to answer questions or participate in any form of therapy."

"So you don't actually know if she's sick or not," Modig said. "I mean, if there isn't any diagnosis."

"Look at it this way," Dr. Teleborian said. "I was given Lisbeth Salander just as she was about to turn thirteen. She was psychotic, showed obsessive behaviour, and was obviously suffering from paranoia. She was my patient for two years after she was committed to St.Stefan's. The reason for committing her was that throughout her childhood she had exhibited exceedingly violent behaviour towards schoolmates, teachers, and acquaintances. In repeated instances she was reported for assault. In every case that we know of, the violence was directed at people in her own circle, that is, against people she knew who said or did something that she perceived as an insult. There is no case of her ever having attacked a stranger. That's why I believe there must be a link between her and the couple in Enskede."

"Except for the attack in the tunnelbana when she was seventeen," Faste said.

"Well, on that occasion she was the one who was attacked and she was defending herself," Teleborian said. "Against, it should be said, a known sex offender. But it's also a good example of the way she behaves. She could have walked away or sought refuge among other passengers in the carriage. Instead she responded with aggravated assault. When she feels threatened she reacts with excessive violence."

"What's actually the matter with her?" Bublanski asked.

"As I said, we don't have a real diagnosis. I would say that she suffers from schizophrenia and is continually balancing on the brink of psychosis. She lacks empathy and in many respects can be described as a sociopath. It's surprising, frankly, that she has managed so well since she turned eighteen. She has been functioning in society, albeit under guardianship, for eight years without doing anything that led to a police report or arrest. But her prognosis -"

"Her prognosis?"

"During this entire time she has not received any treatment. My guess is that the illness we might have been able to treat and cure ten years ago is now a fixed part of her personality. I predict that when she is apprehended, she will not be given a prison sentence. She needs treatment."

"So why the hell did the district court decide to give her a free pass into society?" Faste asked.

"It should probably be viewed as a combination of things. She had a lawyer, an eloquent one, but it was also a manifestation of the current liberalization policies and cutbacks. It was a decision that I opposed when I was consulted by forensic medicine. But I had no say in the matter."

"But surely that kind of prognosis must be pretty much guesswork, don't you think?" Modig said. "You don't actually know what's been going on with her since she turned eighteen."

"It's more than a guess. It's based on my professional experience."

"Is she self-destructive?" Modig asked.

"You mean could I picture her committing suicide? No, I doubt that. She's more of an egomaniacal psychopath. It's all about her. Everyone else around her is unimportant."

"You said that she might react with excessive force," Faste said. "In other words, should we consider her to be dangerous?"

Dr. Teleborian looked at him for a long moment. Then he leaned forward and rubbed his forehead.

"You have no idea how difficult it is to say exactly how a person will react. I don't want Lisbeth Salander to be harmed when you apprehend her...  but yes, in her case I would try to make sure the arrest is carried out with the utmost circumspection. If she is armed, there would be a very real risk that she will use the weapon."


Tuesday, March 29 - Wednesday, March 30

The three parallel investigations into the murders in Enskede churned on. Officer Bubble's investigation enjoyed the advantages of authority. On the surface, the solution seemed to lie within reach; they had a suspect and a murder weapon that was linked to the suspect. They had an ironclad connection to one victim and a possible connection via Blomkvist to the other two victims. For Bublanski it was now basically a matter of finding Salander and putting her in a cell in Kronoberg prison.