***



Inspector Modig shook hands with Berger, who immediately offered her some coffee. She noticed that all the mugs in the kitchenette had logos and ads for political parties and professional organizations.



"They're mostly from election-night parties and interviews," Berger explained, handing her a Liberal Youth Party mug.




Modig worked at Svensson's old desk. Eriksson offered to help, both in explaining what Svensson's book and article were about and in navigating the research material. Modig was impressed by the scope of it. It had been an irritation for the investigative team that Svensson's computer was missing and that his work seemed inaccessible. But in fact backups had been made of most of it and had been available all along at the Millennium offices.



Blomkvist was not in the office, but Berger gave Modig a list of the material he had taken from Svensson's desk, which dealt exclusively with the identity of sources. Modig called Bublanski and explained the situation. They decided that all the material on Svensson's desk, including Millennium's computer, would have to be confiscated and that Bublanski would return with a warrant if necessary to requisition the material that Blomkvist had already removed. Modig then drew up a confiscation inventory, and Cortez helped her carry the cardboard boxes down to her car.



On Monday evening Blomkvist was feeling deeply frustrated. He had now checked off ten of the names Svensson had intended to expose. In each instance he had encountered worried, excitable, and shocked men. He estimated their average income at around 400,000 kronor a year. They were a group of pathetic, frightened individuals.



He had not felt, however, that any of them had anything to hide with respect to the murders.



Blomkvist opened his iBook to check whether he had a new message from Salander. He did not. In her previous note she had said that the johns were of no interest and that he was wasting his time with them. He cursed her with a string of expletives. He was hungry, but he did not feel like making himself supper. Besides, he hadn't been shopping for two weeks, except to buy milk from the corner store. He put on his jacket and went down to the Greek taverna on Hornsgatan and ordered the grilled lamb.



Salander first took a look at the stairwell and at dusk made two cautious circuits of the adjacent buildings. They were low-frame buildings that she suspected were not soundproof and hardly ideal for her purposes. The journalist Sandstrom lived in a corner apartment on the fourth floor, the highest. Then the stairwell continued up to an attic door. It would have to do.



The problem was that there was no light in any of the apartment's windows.



She walked to a pizzeria a few streets away, where she ordered a Hawaiian and sat in a corner to read the evening papers. Just before 9:00 she bought a caffe latte at the Pressbyrå kiosk and returned to the building. The apartment was still in darkness. She entered the stairwell and sat on the steps to the attic. From there she had a view of Sandstrom's door half a flight down. She drank her latte while she waited.



Inspector Faste finally tracked down Cilla Noren, lead singer of the Satanist group Evil Fingers, at the studio of Recent Trash Records in an industrial building in alvsjo. It was a cultural collision of about the same magnitude as the Spanish first encountering the Carib Indians.



After several futile attempts at Noren's parents' house, Faste had succeeded at the studio, where according to her sister she was "helping out" with the production of a CD by the band Cold Wax from Borlange. Faste had never heard of the band, which seemed to consist of guys in their twenties. As soon as he entered the corridor outside the studio he was met by a wall of sound that took his breath away. He watched Cold Wax through a window and waited until there was a pause in the cacophony.



Noren had raven black hair with red and green braids and black eye makeup. She was on the chubby side and wore a short skirt and top which revealed a pierced belly button. She had a belt full of rivets around her hips and looked like something out of a French horror movie.



Faste held up his police ID and said he needed to talk to her. She went on chewing gum and gave him a sceptical look. She pointed to a door and led him into a sort of canteen, where he tripped and almost fell over a bag of trash that had been dumped right by the door. Noren ran water into an empty plastic bottle, drank about half of it, and then sat down at a table and lit a cigarette. She fixed Faste with her clear blue eyes.



"What is Recent Trash Records?"



She seemed bored out of her skull.



"It's a record company that produces new bands."



"What's your role here?"



"I'm the sound engineer."



Faste gave her a hard look. "Are you trained to do that?"



"Nope. I taught myself."



"Can you make a living from it?"



"Why do you ask?"



"I'm just curious. I assume you've read about Lisbeth Salander in the papers lately."



She nodded.



"We believe that you know her. Is that correct?"



"Could be."



"Is it correct or not correct?"



"It depends what you're looking for."



"I'm looking for an insane woman who committed a triple murder. I want information about Lisbeth Salander."



"I haven't heard from Lisbeth since last year."



"When was the last time you saw her?"



"Sometime in the fall two years ago. At Kvarnen. She used to hang out there, but then she stopped coming."



"Have you tried to get in touch with her?"



"I've called her mobile a few times. The number's been disconnected."



"And you don't know how to get hold of her otherwise?"



"No."



"What is Evil Fingers?"



Noren looked amused. "Don't you read the papers?"



"What does that mean?"



"They say we're a Satanist band."



"Are you?"



"Do I look like a Satanist?"



"What does a Satanist look like?"



"Well, I don't know who's dumber - the police or the newspapers."



"Listen here, young lady, this is a very serious matter."



"Whether we're Satanists or not?"



"Stop screwing around and answer the question."



"And what was the question?"



Faste closed his eyes for a second and thought about a visit he had paid to the police in Greece when he was on vacation some years earlier. The Greek police, despite all their problems, had one big advantage compared to the Swedish police. If this young woman had taken the same attitude over there he would have been able to bend her over and give her three whacks with a baton. He looked at her.



"Was Lisbeth Salander a member of Evil Fingers?"



"I wouldn't think so."



"What is that supposed to mean?"



"Lisbeth is probably the most tone-deaf person I've ever met."



"Tone-deaf?"



"She can tell the difference between trumpet and drums, but that's about as far as her musical talent stretches."



"I mean, was she in the group Evil Fingers?"



"And I just answered your question. What the hell do you think Evil Fingers is?"



"You tell me."



"You're running a police investigation by reading idiotic newspaper articles."



"Answer the question."



"Evil Fingers was a rock band. We were a bunch of girls in the mid-nineties who liked hard rock and played for fun. We promoted ourselves with a pentagram and a little 'Sympathy for the Devil.' Then the band broke up, and I'm the only one who's still working in music."



"And Lisbeth Salander was not, you say, a member of the band?"



"Like I said."



"So why do our sources claim that Salander was in the band?"



"Because your sources are about as stupid as the newspapers."



"Explain."



"There were five of us girls in the band, and we still get together now and then. In the old days we used to meet once a week at Kvarnen. Now it's about once a month. But we stay in touch."



"And what do you do when you get together?"



"What do you think people do at Kvarnen?"



Faste sighed. "So you get together to drink."



"We usually drink beer. And we gossip. What do you do when you get together with your friends?"



"And how does Salander come into the picture?"



"I met her at KomVux several years ago. She used to show up from time to time at Kvarnen and have a beer with us."



"So Evil Fingers can't be regarded as an organization?"



Noren looked at him as if he were from another planet.



"Are you dykes?"



"Would you like a punch in the mouth?"



"Answer the question."



"It's none of your business what we are."



"Take it easy. You can't provoke me."



"Hello? The police are claiming that Lisbeth murdered three people and you come here to ask me about my sexual preferences. You can go to hell."



"You know, I could take you in."



"For what? By the way, I forgot to tell you that I've been studying law for three years and my father is Ulf Noren of Noren & Knape, the law firm. See you in court."



"I thought you worked in the music business."



"I do this because it's fun. You think I make a living doing this?"



"I have no idea how you make a living."



"I don't make a living as a lesbian Satanist, if that's what you think. And if that's the basis of the police search for Lisbeth, then I can see why you haven't found her."



"Do you know where she is?"



Noren began rocking her upper body back and forth and let her hands glide up in front of her.



"I can feel that she's close...  Wait a minute, I'll check my telepathic powers."



"Cut it out."



"I've already told you I haven't heard from her for almost two years. I have no idea where she is. So now, if there isn't anything else... "



Modig hooked up Svensson's computer and spent the evening cataloguing the contents of his hard drive and the disks. She sat there until 11:00 reading his book.



She came to two realizations. First, that Svensson was a brilliant writer who described the business of the sex trade with compelling objectivity. She wished he could have lectured at the police academy - his knowledge would have been a valuable addition to the curriculum. Faste, for example, could have benefited from Svensson's insights.



The second realization was that Blomkvist's theory about Svensson's research providing a motive for murder was completely valid. Svensson's planned exposure of prostitutes' clients would have done more than merely hurt a number of men. It was a brutal revelation. Some of the prominent players, several of whom had handed down verdicts in sex-crime trials or participated in the public debate, would be annihilated.



The problem was that even if a john who risked being exposed had decided to murder Svensson, there was, as yet, no prospect of such a link to Nils Bjurman. He did not feature in Svensson's material, and that fact not only diminished the strength of Blomkvist's argument but also reinforced the likelihood of Salander's being the only possible suspect.



Even if a motive for the murders of Svensson and Johansson was still unclear, Salander had been at the crime scene and her fingerprints were on the murder weapon.



The weapon was also directly linked to the murder of Bjurman. There was a personal connection and a possible motive - the decoration on Bjurman's abdomen raised the possibility of some form of sexual assault or a sadomasochistic relationship between the two. It was impossible to imagine Bjurman having voluntarily submitted to such a bizarre and painful tattoo. Either he had found pleasure in the humiliation or Salander - if she was the one who had done the tattooing - had first made him powerless. How it had actually happened was not something Modig wanted to speculate about.



On the other hand, Teleborian had confirmed that Salander's violence was directed at people whom she regarded as a threat or who had offended her.



He had seemed genuinely protective, as if he did not want his former patient to come to any harm. All the same, the investigation had been based largely on his analysis of her - as a sociopath on the border of psychosis.



But Blomkvist's theory was attractive.



She chewed her lower lip as she tried to visualize some alternative scenario to Salander the killer, working alone. Finally she wrote a line in her notebook.



Two completely separate motives? Two murderers? One murder weapon?



She had a fleeting thought that she could not quite pin down, but it was something she intended to ask Bublanski at the morning meeting. She could not explain why she suddenly felt so uncomfortable with the theory of Salander as a killer working alone.



Then she called it a night, resolutely shut down her computer, and locked the disks in her desk drawer. She put on her jacket, turned off the desk lamp, and was just about to lock the door to her office when she heard a sound further down the corridor. She frowned. She had thought she was alone in the department. She walked down the corridor to Faste's office. His door was ajar and she heard him talking on the phone.



"It undeniably links things together," she heard him say.



She stood undecided for a moment before she took a deep breath and knocked on the doorjamb. Faste looked up in surprise. She waved.



"Modig is still in the building," Faste said into the phone. He listened and nodded without releasing her from his gaze. "OK, I'll tell her." He hung up. "Bubble," he said in explanation. "What do you want?"

Source: www.StudyNovels.com