Two of the pictures were of Dr. Forbes alone; one of them had been taken at the premiere of a play and showed Forbes with his wife. The fourth photograph was of Forbes in a church pulpit.



The first document contained eleven pages of text, which was Bilbo's report. The second document contained eighty-four pages of text downloaded from the Internet. The next two documents were OCR-scanned newspaper clippings from the Austin American-Statesman, and the final document was an overview of Dr. Forbes' congregation, the Presbyterian Church of Austin South.


Apart from the fact that Salander knew the Book of Leviticus by heart - the year before, she had had occasion to study biblical references to punishment - she had little more than a sketchy grasp of religious history. She had only a vague sense of the differences between Jewish, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches, apart from the fact that the Jewish ones were called synagogues. For a moment she was afraid that she would have to immerse herself in the theological details. But on reflection she didn't give a flying fuck what sort of congregation Dr. Forbes belonged to.


Dr. Richard Forbes, aka Reverend Richard Forbes, was forty-two. The home page of the Church of Austin South showed that the church had seven employees. Reverend Duncan Clegg was at the top of the list. The photograph showed a powerful man with bushy grey hair and a well-groomed grey beard.


Forbes was the third name on the list, responsible for educational matters. Next to his name it also said "Holy Water Foundation" in parentheses.


Salander read the introduction to the church's mission statement.


Through prayer and thanksgiving we shall serve the people of Austin South by offering the stability, theology, and hopeful ideology as defended by the Presbyterian Church of America. As Christ's servants we offer a refuge for people in need and a promise of atonement through prayer and the sacrament of baptism. Let us be joyful in God's love. Our duty is to remove the barriers between people and to erase the obstacles to an understanding of God's message of love.


Below the introduction was the church's bank account number and an appeal to convert one's love of God into action.


From Bilbo's succinct biography Salander learned that Forbes was born in Pine Bluff, Nevada, and had worked as a farmer, businessman, school administrator, local correspondent for a newspaper in New Mexico, and manager of a Christian rock band before joining the Church of Austin South at the age of thirty-one. He was a certified public accountant and had also studied archaeology. Bilbo had not been able to find the source of his doctorate.


Forbes had met Geraldine Knight in the congregation, the only daughter of rancher William F. Knight, also a member of Austin South. The couple had married in 1997, and subsequently Forbes' star in the church had risen. He became the head of the Santa Maria Foundation, the aim of which was to "invest God's funds in educational projects for the needy."


Forbes had been arrested twice. At the age of twenty-five, in 1987, he had been charged with aggravated bodily harm following a car accident. He was acquitted by the court. As far as Salander could tell from the press clippings, he was indeed innocent. In 1995 he was charged with embezzling money from the Christian rock band he managed. He was acquitted that time too.


In Austin he had become a prominent public figure and a member of the city's board of education. He was a member of the Democratic Party, participated diligently in charity work, and collected money to fund schooling for children in less fortunate families. The Church of Austin South concentrated its work among Spanish-speaking families.


In 2001, allegations had been made against Forbes for financial irregularities in his work with the Santa Maria Foundation. According to one newspaper article, Forbes was suspected of having placed a larger portion of the assets into investment funds than was stipulated in the statutes. The accusations were denied by the church, and the Reverend Clegg stood firmly on Forbes' side in the controversy. No charges were filed, and an audit turned up nothing untoward.


Salander studied Bilbo's summary of Forbes' own finances. He had an annual income of $60,000, which was considered a decent salary, but he himself had no assets. Geraldine Forbes was responsible for their financial stability. Her father had died in 2002. The daughter was sole heir to a fortune worth at least $40 million. The couple had no children.


Forbes was therefore dependent on his wife. Salander thought that this was not a good position to be in if you were in the habit of abusing your wife.


She logged on to the Internet and sent an encrypted message to Bilbo thanking him for his report, and then she transferred $500 to his account.


She went out on the balcony and leaned against the railing. The sun was about to set. A breeze was rustling the crowns of the palm trees along the seawall. Grenada was feeling the outer bands of Matilda. She followed Ella Carmichael's advice and packed her computer, Dimensions in Mathematics, some personal effects, and a change of clothes into her shoulder bag and set it on the floor next to the bed. Then she went down to the bar and ordered fish for dinner and a bottle of Carib.


The only event of interest was when Dr. Forbes, who had changed into a light-coloured tennis shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes, approached the bar to ask Ella about Matilda's movements. He did not seem particularly anxious. He wore a cross on a gold chain around his neck and looked vigorous, even attractive.


Salander was worn out after the day's fruitless wandering in St.George's. She took a short walk after dinner, but the wind was blowing hard and the temperature had dropped sharply. She went back to her room and crept into bed by 9:00. The wind was rattling the windows. She had intended to read for a while but fell fast asleep almost immediately.


She was awakened all of a sudden by a loud banging. She looked at her watch: 11:15. She lurched out of bed and opened the door to the balcony. Gusts of wind made her take a step back. She braced herself on the doorjamb, took a cautious step onto the balcony, and looked around.


Some hanging lamps around the pool were swinging back and forth, creating a dramatic shadow play in the garden. She noticed that several hotel guests were standing by the opening in the wall, looking out at the beach. Others were grouped near the bar. To the north she could see the lights of St.George's. The sky was overcast, but it was not raining. She could not see the ocean in the dark, but the roar of the waves was much louder than usual. The temperature had dropped even further. For the first time since she had arrived in the Caribbean she shivered with cold.


As she stood on the balcony there was a loud knock on her door. She wrapped a sheet around her and opened the door. Freddy McBain looked resolute.


"Pardon me for bothering you, but there seems to be a storm."


"Matilda."


"Matilda," McBain said. "She struck outside Tobago earlier this evening and we've received reports of substantial destruction."


Salander went through her knowledge of geography and meteorology. Trinidad and Tobago lay about 125 miles southeast of Grenada. A tropical storm could spread to a radius of 60 miles, and its eye could move at a speed of 20 to 25 miles an hour. Which meant that Matilda might be knocking at Grenada's door any time now. It all depended on which direction it was heading.


"There's no immediate danger," McBain said, "but we're not taking any chances. I want you to pack your valuables in a bag and come down to the lobby. The hotel will provide coffee and sandwiches."


Salander washed her face to wake up, pulled on some jeans, shoes, and a flannel shirt, and picked up her shoulder bag. Before she left the room she went and opened the bathroom door and turned on the light. The green lizard wasn't there; it must have crept into some hole. Smart girl.


In the bar she settled in her usual spot and watched Ella Carmichael directing her staff and filling thermoses with hot drinks. After a while she came over to Lisbeth's corner.


"Hi. You look like you just woke up."


"I did sleep a little. What happens now?"


"We wait. Out at sea there's a heavy storm, and we got a hurricane warning from Trinidad. If it gets worse and Matilda comes this way, we'll go into the cellar. Can you lend us a hand?"


"What do you want me to do?"


"We have a hundred and sixty blankets in the lobby to be carried down. And we have a lot of things that need to be stowed."


Salander helped carry the blankets downstairs and brought in flower vases, tables, chaises longues, and other unfixed items from around the pool. When Ella was satisfied and told her that was enough, Salander went over to the opening in the wall that faced the beach and took a few steps out into the darkness. The sea was booming menacingly and the wind tore at her so strongly that she had to brace herself to stay upright. The palm trees along the wall were swaying.


She went back inside, ordered a caffe latte, and sat with it at the bar. It was past midnight. The atmosphere among the guests and staff was anxious. People were having subdued conversations, looking towards the horizon from time to time, and waiting. There were thirty-two guests and a staff of ten at the Keys Hotel. Salander noticed Geraldine Forbes at a table by the front desk. She looked tense and was nursing a drink. Her husband was nowhere to be seen.


Salander drank her coffee and had once more started in on Fermat's theorem when McBain came out of the office and stood in the middle of the lobby.


"May I have your attention, please? I have been informed that a hurricane-force storm has just hit Petite Martinique. I have to ask everyone to go down to the cellar at once."


McBain stonewalled the many questions and directed his guests to the cellar stairs behind the front desk. Petite Martinique, a small island belonging to Grenada, was only a few sea miles north of the main island. Salander glanced at Ella Carmichael and pricked up her ears when the bartender went over to McBain.


"How bad is it?"


"No way of knowing. The telephone lines are down," McBain said in a low voice.


Salander went down to the cellar and put her bag on a blanket in the corner. She thought for a moment and then headed back up against the flow to the lobby. She found Ella and asked her if there was anything else she could do to help. Ella shook her head, looking worried.


"Matilda is a bitch. We'll just have to see what happens."


Salander watched a group of five adults and about ten children hurrying in through the hotel entrance. McBain took charge of them too and directed them to the cellar stairs.


Salander was suddenly struck by a worrisome thought.


"I suppose everybody will be going down into their cellars about now," she said quietly.


Ella watched the family going down the stairs.


"Unfortunately ours is one of the few cellars on Grand Anse. More people will probably be coming to seek shelter here."


Salander gave her a sharp look.


"What will the rest do?"


"The ones who don't have cellars?" She gave a bitter laugh. "They'll huddle in their houses or look for shelter in a shed. They have to trust in God."


Salander turned and ran through the lobby and out of the entrance.


George Bland.


She heard Ella call after her, but she did not stop to explain.


He lives in a fucking shack that will collapse with the first gust of wind.


As she reached the road to St.George's she staggered in the wind that tore at her body, and then she began to jog. She was heading stubbornly into a heavy headwind that made her reel. It took almost ten minutes to cover the four hundred yards to the shack. She did not see a living soul the whole way there.


The rain came out of nowhere like an ice-cold shower from a fire hose. At the same instant, she turned in towards the shack and saw the light from his kerosene lamp swinging in the window. She was drenched in a second, and she could hardly see two yards in front of her. She hammered on his door. George Bland opened it with eyes wide.


"What are you doing here?" He shouted to be heard above the wind.


"Come on. You have to come to the hotel. They have a cellar."


The boy looked shocked. The wind slammed the door shut and it was several seconds before he could force it open again. Salander grabbed hold of his T-shirt and dragged him out. She wiped the water from her face, then gripped his hand and began to run. He ran with her.


They took the beach path, which was about a hundred yards shorter than the main road, which looped inland. When they had gone halfway, Salander realized that this might have been a mistake. On the beach they had no protection at all. Wind and rain tore at them so hard that they had to stop several times. Sand and branches were flying through the air. There was a terrible roar. After what seemed an eternity Salander finally spied the hotel walls and picked up the pace. Just as they made it to the entrance and the promise of safety, she looked over her shoulder at the beach. She stopped short.


Through a rain squall she spotted two figures about fifty yards down the beach. Bland pulled her arm to drag her through the door. She let go of his hand and braced herself against the wall as she tried to focus on the water's edge. For a second or two she lost sight of the figures in the rain, but then the entire sky was lit up by a flash of lightning.


She knew already that it was Richard and Geraldine Forbes. They were at about the same place where she had seen Forbes wandering back and forth the night before.


When the next flash came, Forbes appeared to be dragging his wife, who was struggling with him.


All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The financial dependence. The allegations of chicanery in Austin. His restless wandering and motionless hours at the Turtleback.


He's planning to murder her. Forty million in the pot. The storm is his camouflage. This is his chance.


Salander turned and shoved Bland through the door. She looked around and found the rickety wooden chair the night watchman usually sat on, which had not been cleared away before the storm. She smashed it as hard as she could against the wall and armed herself with one of its legs. Bland screamed after her in horror as she ran towards the beach.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com