"Follow up on it," Blomkvist said, "and see if you can find him in some database. I think it's urgent. Call me on my mobile."
To Eriksson's surprise, he disconnected without even saying goodbye.
Blomkvist was standing at that moment by a window, looking out at a magnificent view that stretched far from Gamla Stan towards Saltsjon. He felt numb. There was a kitchen off the hall to the right of the front door. Then there was a living room, an office, a bedroom, and even a small guest room that seemed not to have been used. The mattress was still in its plastic wrapper and there were no sheets. All the furniture was brand-new, straight from IKEA.
What floored Blomkvist was that Salander had bought the pied-a-terre that had belonged to Percy Barnevik, a captain of industry. The apartment was about 3,800 square feet and worth twenty-five million kronor.
Blomkvist wandered through deserted, almost eerily empty corridors and rooms with patterned parquet floors of different kinds of wood, and Tricia Guild wallpaper of the type that Berger had at one time coveted. At the centre of the apartment was a wonderfully bright living room with an open fireplace, but Salander seemed never to have had a fire. There was an enormous balcony with a fantastic view. There was a laundry room, a sauna, a gym, storage rooms, and a bathroom with a king-size bath. There was even a wine cellar, which was empty except for an unopened bottle of Quinta do Noval port - Nacional! - from 1976. Blomkvist struggled to imagine Salander with a glass of port in her hand. An elegant card indicated that it had been a moving-in present from the estate agent.
The kitchen contained all manner of equipment, with a shiny French gourmet stove with a gas oven as the focus. Blomkvist had never before set eyes on a La Cornue Chateau 120. Salander probably used it for boiling tea water.
On the other hand he admired with awe the espresso machine on its own separate table. She had a Jura Impressa X7 with an attached milk cooler. The machine looked barely used and had probably been in the kitchen when she bought the apartment. Blomkvist knew that a Jura was the espresso equivalent of a Rolls-Royce - a professional machine for domestic use that cost in the neighbourhood of 70,000 kronor. He had an espresso machine that he had bought at John Wall, which had cost around 3,500 kronor - one of the few extravagances he had allowed himself for his own household, and a fraction of the grandeur of Salander's machine.
The refrigerator contained an open milk carton, some cheese, butter, caviar, and a half-empty jar of pickled gherkins. The kitchen cupboard contained four half-empty jars of vitamins, tea bags, coffee for an ordinary coffeemaker, two loaves of bread, and a packet of crispbreads. On the kitchen table was a bowl of apples. There were three ham pies and a fish casserole in the freezer. That was all the food he found in the apartment. In the trash under the counter next to the stove he saw several empty packages for Billy's Pan Pizza.
The arrangement was all out of proportion. Salander had stolen several billion kronor and bought herself an apartment with space for an entire court. But she only needed the three rooms she had furnished. The other eighteen rooms were empty.
Blomkvist ended his tour in her office. There were no flowers anywhere. There were no paintings or even posters on the walls. There were no rugs or wall hangings. He could not see a single decorative bowl, candlestick, or even a knickknack that had been saved for sentimental reasons.
Blomkvist felt as if someone were squeezing his heart. He felt that he had to find Salander and hold her close.
She would probably bite him if he tried.
Then he sat down at her desk and opened the folder with Bjorck's report from 1991. He did not read it all, but skimmed through it, trying to absorb the essentials.
He booted up her PowerBook with the 17-inch screen, 200 GB hard drive, and 1,000 MB of RAM. It was empty. She had wiped it. That was ominous.
He opened her desk drawer and found a 9 mm Colt 1911 Government single-action with a fully loaded magazine, seven rounds. It was the pistol Salander had taken from the journalist Sandstrom, though Blomkvist knew nothing about that. He had not yet reached the letter S on the list of johns.
Then he found a DVD marked BJURMAN.
He stuck it into his iBook and watched its contents with horror. He sat in stunned silence as he saw Salander beaten up, raped, almost murdered. The film seemed to have been made with a hidden camera. He did not watch it all but skipped from one section to the next, each worse than the last.
Salander's guardian had raped her, and she had documented the event to the final detail. A digital date showed that the film had been recorded two years earlier. That was before he met her. Pieces of the puzzle were falling into place.
Bjorck and Bjurman together with Zalachenko in the seventies.
Zalachenko and Salander and a Molotov cocktail made from a milk carton in the early nineties.
Then Bjurman again, now her guardian, having replaced Palmgren. The circle had been closed. Bjurman had attacked his ward. He had treated her as a mentally ill, defenceless girl, but Salander was anything but defenceless. She was the girl who at the age of twelve had gone to war with a hit man who had defected from the GRU, and she had crippled him for life.
Salander was the woman who hated men who hate women.
He thought back to the time when he had come to know her in Hedestad. It must have been a matter of months after the rape. He could not recall that she had hinted by so much as a single word that any such thing had happened to her. She had not revealed much at all about herself. Blomkvist could not guess what she had done to Bjurman - but she had not killed him. Oddly enough. Otherwise Bjurman would have been dead two years ago. She must have been controlling him in some way and for some purpose that he could not begin to understand. Then he realized that he had the means of her control right there on the desk. The DVD. As long as she had that, Bjurman was her helpless slave. And Bjurman had turned to the man he supposed was an ally. Zalachenko. Her worst enemy. Her father.
Then a whole chain of events. Bjurman had been shot first, then Svensson and Johansson.
But how? What could have made Svensson such a threat?
And suddenly he knew what must have happened in Enskede.
Blomkvist found a piece of paper on the floor beneath the window. Salander had printed out a page, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it away. He smoothed it out. It was from Aftonbladet's online edition about the kidnapping of Miriam Wu.
He did not know what role Wu had played in the drama - if any - but she had been one of Salander's very few friends. Maybe her only friend. Salander had given her old apartment to her. Now she was lying in the hospital, badly beaten.
Niedermann and Zalachenko.
First her mother. Then Miriam Wu. Salander must be crazy with hatred.
This was one provocation too many.
And now she was on the hunt.
At lunchtime Armansky received a call from the rehabilitation home in Ersta. He had expected to hear from Palmgren much earlier and had avoided making contact with him. He'd been afraid that he would have to report that Salander was guilty beyond all doubt. Now at least he could tell him that there was in fact reasonable doubt of her guilt.
"How far did you get?" Palmgren said without beating about the bush.
"With your investigation of Salander."
"And what makes you think I'm doing any such investigation?"
"Don't waste my time, Dragan." Armansky sighed. "You're right."
"I want you to come and see me," Palmgren said. "I can come this weekend."
"Not good enough. I want you to come tonight. We have a great deal to discuss."
Blomkvist had made himself coffee and a sandwich in Salander's kitchen. He half hoped to hear her keys in the door. But he was not optimistic. The empty hard drive in her PowerBook told him that she had already left her hideout for good. He had found her apartment too late.
At 2:30 in the afternoon he was still sitting at Salander's desk. He had read Bjorck's "non-report" three times. It had been formulated as a memo to an unnamed superior. The recommendation was simple: get a pliable psychiatrist who would admit Salander to the children's psychiatric clinic. The girl was disturbed, as was clearly demonstrated by her behaviour.
Blomkvist was going to devote very particular attention to Bjorck and Teleborian in the coming days. He was looking forward to it. His mobile rang and interrupted his train of thought.
"Hi again. It's Malin. I think I've got something."
"There's no Ronald Niedermann in the social security records in Sweden. He's not in any telephone book or tax records or on the vehicle licencing database, or anywhere else. But listen to this. In 1998 a corporation was registered with the Patent Office. It's called KAB Import AB and has a P.O. box address in Goteborg. The company imports electronics. The chairman of the board is Karl Axel Bodin, hence KAB, born in 1941."
"It doesn't ring a bell."
"Not for me either. There's also an accountant on the board who's registered at a couple of dozen other companies. He seems to be one of those nominal finance directors that small companies need. The company has been more or less dormant since it was set up. But then the third member of the board is an R. Niedermann. He doesn't have a social security number in Sweden. He was born on January 18, 1970, and is listed as the company's representative in the German market."
"Good work, Malin. Very good. Do we have an address apart from the P.O. box?"
"No, but I've tracked down Karl Axel Bodin. He's registered in West Sweden and lives at the address for P.O. box 612 in Gosseberga. I looked it up; it seems to be a property in the country not far from Nossebro, northeast of Goteborg."
"What do we know about him?"
"He declared an income of 260,000 kronor two years ago. According to our friend on the police force, he has no criminal record. He has a licence for a moose rifle and a shotgun. He has two cars, a Ford and a Saab, both older models. No points on his licence. He's unmarried and calls himself a farmer."
"A man about whom we know nothing, who has no police record." Blomkvist thought for a few moments. He had to make a decision.
"One more thing. Dragan Armansky called several times looking for you."
"Thanks, Malin. I'll call you later."
"Mikael... is everything OK with you?"
"No, everything isn't OK, but I'll be in touch."
As a good citizen he ought to call Bublanski. If he did, he would either have to tell him the truth about Salander or end up in a muddled situation of half-truths and withheld facts. But that was not the real problem.
Salander was out looking for Niedermann and Zalachenko. He had no idea how far she had gotten, but if he and Eriksson could find an address for P.O. box 612 in Gosseberga, there was no doubt that Salander could too. It was very likely that she was heading to Gosseberga. That was the natural next step.
If he called the police and told them where Niedermann was hiding, he'd have to tell them that Salander was probably on her way there. She was being sought for three murders and the shooting in Stallarholmen, which would mean that the national armed response team or some equivalent would be tasked with taking her in.
And Salander would no doubt put up a violent resistance.
Blomkvist got a pen and paper and made a list of things he could not or would not want to tell the police.
First the address in Mosebacke.
Salander had gone to a great deal of trouble to ensure the privacy of her apartment. This was where she had her life and her secrets. He was not going to give her away.
Then he wrote Bjurman and added a question mark after the name.
He glanced at the DVD on the desk. Bjurman had raped Salander. He had nearly killed her. He had outrageously abused his position as her guardian. He should be exposed for the swine he was. But there was an ethical dilemma here. Salander had not told the police. Did she want to be exposed in the media by a police investigation in which the most harrowing, intimate details would be leaked in a matter of hours? The DVD was proof, and stills from it would probably end up in the evening papers.
It was up to Salander to decide how she wanted to proceed. But if he had been able to track down her apartment, sooner or later the police would do so too. He put the DVD in his bag.
Then he wrote Bjorck's report. In 1991 it had been stamped top secret. It shed light on everything that had happened. It named Zalachenko and made clear Bjorck's role, and together with the list of johns from Svensson's computer it would give Bjorck some anxious hours facing Bublanski. And in light of the correspondence, Teleborian would find himself in deep shit too.
The documents would lead the police to Gosseberga, but at least he would have a head start.
He started Word and wrote in outline form the key facts he had discovered during the past twenty-four hours from his conversations with Bjorck and Palmgren, and from the material he had found at Salander's place. It took him about an hour. He burned the document onto a CD along with his own research.
He wondered whether he ought to check in with Armansky, but thought the hell with it. He had enough balls to juggle already.
Blomkvist walked into Millennium and went straight to Berger's office.
"His name is Zalachenko," he said without even saying hello. "He's a former Soviet hit man from one of the intelligence services. He defected in 1976 and was granted asylum in Sweden and given a salary by Sapo. After the end of the Soviet Union he became, like many others, a full-time gangster. Now he's involved in sex trafficking and smuggling weapons and drugs."
Berger put down her pen. "Why am I not surprised that the KGB is popping up in the action?"
"It's not the KGB. It's the GRU. The military intelligence service."