Zala.




Mikael stared at the name.



Svensson had mentioned Zala in his last phone call, three hours before he was murdered.



What is she trying to say? Is Zala the link between Bjurman and Dag and Mia? How? Why? Who is he? And how did Salander know that? How is she involved?



He opened the document properties and saw that the text had been created not fifteen minutes before. Then he smiled. The document showed Mikael Blomkvist as its author. She had created the document in his computer with his own licenced Word programme. That was better than email and did not leave an IP address that could be traced, even though Blomkvist was sure that Salander in any case would be impossible to trace through the Internet. And it proved beyond all doubt that Salander had done a hostile takeover - her term - of his computer.



He stood by the window and looked out at City Hall. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched at that very moment by Salander, almost as if she were there in the room staring at him through the screen of his iBook. She could, of course, be anywhere in the world, but he suspected that she was close. Somewhere in Sodermalm. Within a radius of a couple of miles from where he was.



He sat down and created a new Word document that he called [Sally-2] and placed it on the desktop. He wrote a pithy message.



Lisbeth,



You damn troublesome person. Who the hell is Zala? Is he the link? Do you know who murdered Dag & Mia? If so, tell me so we can solve this mess and go to sleep. Mikael.



She was inside Blomkvist's iBook now. The reply came within a minute. A new document appeared in the folder on his desktop, this time called [Kalle Blomkvist].



You're the journalist. Find out.



Blomkvist frowned. She was teasing him and using the nickname she knew he loathed. And she gave him not the slightest help. He wrote the document [Sally-3] and put it on his desktop.



Lisbeth,



A journalist finds out things by asking questions of people who know. I'm asking you. Do you know why Dag and Mia were murdered and who killed them? If you do, please tell me. Give me something to go on. Mikael.



For several hours he waited for another reply. At 4:00 a.m. he gave up and went to bed.



CHAPTER 19



Wednesday, March 30 - Friday, April 1



Blomkvist spent Wednesday combing Svensson's material for every reference to Zala. Just as Salander had done earlier, he discovered the folder on Svensson's computer and read the three documents [Irina P], [Sandstrom], and [Zala], and like Salander he discovered that Svensson had a police source by the name of Gulbrandsen. He traced him to the Criminal Police in Sodertalje, but when he called he was told that Gulbrandsen was on a trip away from the office and would not be back until the following Monday.



He could see that Svensson had spent a great deal of time on Irina P. From the autopsy report he learned that the woman had been killed in a slow, cruel way. The murder had taken place at the end of February. The police had no leads as to who the killer might have been, but since she was a prostitute they assumed that it was one of her clients.



Blomkvist wondered why Svensson had put the [Irina P] document in the folder. Evidently he had linked Zala to Irina P., but there were no such references in the text. Presumably he had made the connection late on.



The document [Zala] looked like rough working notes. Zala (if indeed he existed) seemed almost like a phantom in the criminal world. He did not seem entirely credible, and the text lacked source references.



He closed the document and scratched his head. Solving the murders was going to be a considerably more difficult task than he had imagined. Nor could he avoid being assailed by doubt. Nothing told him unequivocally that Salander was innocent. All he had to go on was his instinct.



He knew that she was not short of funds. She had exploited her skills as a hacker to steal a sum of several billion kronor, but she didn't know that he knew this. Apart from when he had been forced to explain her computer talents to Berger, he had never betrayed her secrets to any outsider.



He didn't want to believe that Salander was guilty of the murders. He would never be able to repay his debt to her. She had not only saved his life, she had also salvaged his career and possibly Millennium magazine itself by delivering Hans-Erik Wennerstrom's head to them on a platter.



And he felt a great loyalty to her. Whether she was guilty or not, he was going to do everything he could to help her when she eventually was caught.



But there was so much that he didn't know about her. The psychiatric assessments, the fact that she had been committed to one of the country's most highly regarded institutions, and that she had even been declared incompetent, all tended to confirm that something was wrong with her. The chief of staff at St.Stefan's Psychiatric Clinic in Uppsala, Dr. Peter Teleborian, had been widely quoted in the press. As was appropriate, he had not made statements specifically about Salander but had commented on the national collapse of mental health care. Teleborian was renowned and respected not merely in Sweden but internationally as well. He had been thoroughly convincing and had managed to convey his sympathy for the murder victims and their families while making it known that he was most anxious about Salander's well-being.



Blomkvist wondered whether he ought to get in touch with Dr. Teleborian and whether he might be able to help in some way. But he refrained. The doctor would have plenty of time to help Salander once she was caught.



Finally he went to the kitchenette and poured coffee into a cup with the logo of the Moderate Unity Party and went in to see Berger.



"I have a long list of johns and pimps I have to interview," he said.



She looked at him with concern.



"It'll probably take a week or two to check off everyone on the list. They're dotted about from Strangnas to Norrkoping. I'll need a car."



She opened her handbag and took out the keys to her BMW.



"Is that really all right?"



"Of course it's all right. I drive to work as rarely as I drive out to Saltsjobaden. And if need be I can take Greger's car."



"Thanks."



"There's one condition, though."



"What's that?"



"Some of these guys are serious thugs. If you're going out to accuse pimps of murdering Dag and Mia, I want you to take this with you and always keep it in the pocket of your jacket."



She put a canister of Mace on the desk.



"Where'd you get that?"



"I bought it in the States last year. I'll be damned if I'm going to run around alone at night without some sort of weapon."



"There'll be hell to pay if I get caught in possession of an illegal weapon."



"Better that than me having to write your obituary, Mikael...  I'm not sure if you know this, but sometimes I really worry about you."



"I see."



"You take risks and you're so pigheaded that you can never back down from a stupid decision."



Blomkvist smiled and put the Mace on Erika's desk.



"Thanks for the concern. But I don't need it."



"Micke, I insist."



"That's fine. But I've already taken precautions."



He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a canister. It was the Mace he had taken out of Salander's shoulder bag and had carried with him ever since.



Bublanski knocked on the open door of Modig's office and then sat down on the visitor's chair by her desk.



"Dag Svensson's computer," he said.



"I've been thinking about that too," she said. "I did a timeline of Svensson and Johansson's last day. There are still a few gaps, but Svensson never went to Millennium's offices that day. On the other hand he did go into the centre of town, and at around 4:00 in the afternoon he ran into an old school friend. It was a chance meeting at a cafe on Drottninggatan. The friend says that Svensson definitely had his computer. He saw it and even made a comment about it."



"And by 11:00 that night - by the time the police arrived at his apartment - the computer was gone."



"Correct."



"What should we deduce from that?"



"He could have stopped somewhere else and for some reason left or forgotten his computer."



"How likely is that?"



"Not very likely. But he could have dropped it off for repair. Then there's the possibility that there was some other place he worked that we don't know about. For example, he once rented a desk at a freelancers' office near St.Eriksplan. Then, of course, there's the possibility that the killer took the computer with him."



"According to Armansky, Salander is very good with computers."



"Exactly," Modig said, nodding.



"Hmm. Blomkvist's theory is that Svensson and Johansson were murdered because of the research Svensson was doing. Which would all be on his computer."



"We're lagging a little behind. Three murder victims create so many loose ends that we can't really keep up, but we actually haven't done a proper search of Svensson's workplace at Millennium yet."



"I talked with Erika Berger this morning. She says they're surprised that we haven't been over to take a look at what he left there."



"We've been focusing too much on the hunt for Salander, and so far we don't have a clue about the motive. Could you... ?"



"I've made a rendezvous with Berger at Millennium for tomorrow."



"Thanks."



On Thursday Blomkvist was at his desk talking to Eriksson when a telephone rang somewhere else in the offices. Through the doorway he caught a glimpse of Cortez on his way to answer it. Then he registered somewhere in the back of his mind that it was the phone on Svensson's desk. He jumped to his feet.



"Stop - don't touch that phone!" he yelled.



Cortez had his hand on the receiver. Blomkvist hurried across the room. What the hell was the name of that phony company Svensson made up?



"Indigo Market Research, this is Mikael. May I help you?"



"Uh...  hello, my name is Gunnar Bjorck. I got a letter saying I've won a mobile phone."



"Congratulations," Blomkvist said. "It's a Sony Ericsson, the latest model."



"And it's free?"



"That's right, it's free. To receive the gift you only have to be interviewed. We do market research studies and in-depth analyses for various companies. It'll take about an hour to answer the questions. After that your name will be entered in another drawing and you'll have the chance to win 100,000 kronor."



"I understand. Can we do it over the phone?"



"Unfortunately not. The questionnaire involves looking at company logos and identifying them. We will also be asking about what type of advertising images you like and we show you various alternatives. We have to send out one of our employees."



"I see...  and how did I happen to be selected?"



"We do this type of study several times a year. Right now we're focusing on a number of successful men in your age group. We've drawn social security numbers at random within that demographic."



Bjorck finally agreed to a meeting. He told Blomkvist that he was on sick leave and was convalescing at a summer cabin up in Smådalaro. He gave directions on how to get there. They agreed to meet on Friday morning.



"YES!" Blomkvist cried when he hung up the phone. He punched the air with his fist. Eriksson and Cortez exchanged puzzled glances.



Paolo Roberto landed at Arlanda at 11:30 on Thursday morning. He had slept during much of the flight from New York, and for once did not have any jet lag.



He had spent a month in the United States talking boxing, watching exhibition fights, and looking for ideas for a production he was planning to sell to Strix Television. Sadly, he admitted to himself, he had left his own professional career on the shelf, partly because of gentle persuasion from his family, but also because he was simply feeling his age. It wasn't so much about keeping in shape, which he did with strenuous workouts at least once a week. He was still a name in the boxing world, and he expected to be working in the sport in some capacity for the rest of his life.



He collected his suitcase from the baggage carousel. At Customs he was stopped and about to be pulled aside when one of the Customs officers recognized him.



"Hello, Paolo. All you've got in your case is gloves, I presume?"



He was crossing the arrivals hall to the escalator down to the Arlanda Express when he stopped short, stunned by Salander's face on the headlines of the evening newspapers. He wondered if he was suffering from jet lag after all. Then he read the headline again.



HUNT FOR



LISBETH SALANDER



He looked at the other headline.



EXTRA!



PSYCHOPATH SOUGHT



FOR TRIPLE KILLING



He bought both the evening papers and the morning ones too and then went over to a cafeteria. He read the articles with growing astonishment.



When Blomkvist came home to Bellmansgatan at 11:00 on Thursday night he was tired and depressed. He had planned to make it an early night to catch up on his sleep, but he couldn't resist the temptation to switch on his iBook and check his email. Nothing of great interest there, but he opened the folder. His pulse quickened when he discovered a new document entitled [MB2]. He double-clicked.



Prosecutor E. is leaking information to the media. Ask him why he didn't leak the old police report.



Blomkvist pondered the message, baffled. What old police report? Why did she have to write every message like a riddle? He created a new document that he called [Cryptic].



Hi, Sally. I'm tired as hell and I've been on the go nonstop since the murders. I don't feel like playing guessing games. Maybe you don't give a damn, but I want to know who killed my friends. M.



He waited at his desk. The reply [Cryptic 2] came a minute later.

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