Six months before he died, fifty-year-old Stieg Larsson arrived at one of Sweden's oldest publishing houses with the manuscripts of two completed novels. One of them was Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which was subsequently published in Swedish in 2005 (under the title Men Who Hate Women). Larsson, who devoted his life to investigative journalism, would never know how successful his novel would become, a bestseller first in Sweden, then in Europe, and finally in the United States.
Some critics have named the intelligent and unguessable twists in the plot as the reason for the novel's popularity. But Dick Adler, a reviewer for the Chicago Tribune, stressed Larsson's "unique and fascinating characters" for the book's success. First there is the twenty-four-year-old Lisbeth Salander, whom Adler describes as a type of "Pippi Longstocking," with a twist. Lisbeth is a young woman who knows how to hack computers, has body piercings and tattoos, and "a survival instinct that should scare anyone." Lisbeth is the star investigator of a private security firm in Stockholm. She teams up with Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist (like Larsson himself), who has been asked to solve a crime that occurred forty years ago.
It was forty years ago that sixteen-year-old Harriet Vanger disappeared. Her uncle, Henrik Vanger, a very rich industrialist, believes that Harriet was murdered, but he has not been able to prove this. Henrik thinks that someone in his family is the murderer. In the process of investigation, a forty-year history of the Vanger family is explored, exposing a complicated system of financial fraud as well as the Swedish society's link to Nazism and a general lack of morality, especially toward women.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is part of what is called the Millennium Trilogy. The second book of the trio is The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006) and the third in the series is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007). Over 20 million copies of the Millennium Trilogy have been sold worldwide. Film adaptations of all three books have been produced in Sweden and are being shown in theaters around the world. Many of the same main characters appear in all three novels.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist and co-publisher of Millennium, a left-wing Swedish magazine which is having some financial struggles. Hans-Erik Wennerstrom wins a libel suit against Blomkvist (though Wennerstrom actually is a corrupt billionaire businessman) and Blomkvist is sentenced to three months in jail. Blomkvist does not defend himself, for the story he published was fed to him by a source he should not have trusted and was, in fact, false. Despite that, Blomkvist knows Wennerstrom is a criminal and Blomkvist is determined to clear his name. Before he begins his prison sentence, he is approached by Henrik Vanger, CEO of the Vanger Corporation, and asked to conduct an investigation into an old family mystery.
Before hiring Blomkvist, Vanger hired Milton Security to conduct a thorough investigation into Blomkvist’s life; this investigation was conducted by a petite, reclusive, gothic girl named Lisbeth Salander. Sander has a troubled past and spent most of her teenage years in an institution; because of this, she trusts virtually no one and lives a life of secrecy and solitude. She has uncanny investigative skills and is a masterful computer hacker. Over time, Dragan Armansky, CEO of Milton Security, becomes an ally to both Blomkvist and Salander.
Vanger lives on Hedeby, an island near Stockholm, as do all of his family members. Almost forty years ago, Vanger’s favorite niece Harriet, the family member most likely to replace her uncle as CEO of the family business, disappeared and was presumably murdered by someone in the family. Vanger offers Blomkvist a significant fee and damning information about Wennerstrom if he will conduct an investigation into Harriet’s disappearance. Blomkvist accepts the offer and goes to live on the island after he serves his short prison term.
Because she was institutionalized for most of her teenage years, Salander is required by the court to have an appointed legal guardian who controls her finances and must approve any large expenses. Holger Palmgren is both her guardian and trusted friend; just as he is prepared to legally emancipate her from any kind of guardianship, he has a debilitating stroke and the change is not made. Nils Bjurman is appointed as her new guardian, but the first time she meets with him he takes sexual advantage of her, assuming she is weak and abusing his position of authority. He threatens her into silence with her own money....
(The entire section is 1571 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
Prologue: A Friday in November
On his eighty-second birthday, a flower is delivered as always. He calls Detective Superintendent Morell, who is now retired and living on Lake Siljan in Dalarna. The former policeman is expecting the call and asks the perfunctory questions. The flower is in a frame, it is postmarked from Stockholm, and the note is written in all capital letters. To these two old men, it is a “routine mystery.”
The flower this year is known as Desert Snow, a common flower in Australia but rare in Sweden. Still, it is difficult to track. Thirty years ago, this sending of flowers was part of an active national mystery; now only these two men and the sender have any interest in it. The retired policeman is not happy about leaving this case unresolved, and he is frustrated because he cannot be sure a crime was ever committed. The birthday boy looks at the display on the wall; this makes the forty-fourth framed flower. There are four rows of ten and now one row of four. Only the ninth spot in the top row is missing a framed flower. Unexpectedly, the policeman begins to weep—and is surprised by his sudden burst of emotion.
Part I: Incentive, December 20–January 3
Friday, December 20
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who rose to prominence when he discovered (accidentally) the hideout of a notorious gang of bank robbers. He is part owner of Millennium, a liberal political magazine, and he has just been convicted of libel and defamation charges. His sentence is three months in jail and a fine of 150,000 kroner for damages. The victim is businessman and financier Hans-Erik Wennerstrom, a very rich and powerful man in the world of international finance.
Blomkvist wrote an exposé on Wennerstrom based on information he received from an old classmate, Robert Lindberg, one night while they were both drinking. Lindberg is in the banking business, and he suggested his journalist friend was missing a scandal if he did not do some checking on Wennerstrom’s business dealings in Poland. In 1992 things were difficult in Sweden, and businessmen like Wennerstrom were often cash poor despite having billions in assets. When Communism fell, businessmen from all over the world wanted to be among the first to introduce democracy and capitalism to Eastern Europe—and they wanted to use government money to do it.
(The entire section is 636 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
Friday, December 20
Dragan Armansky, a Swedish citizen, is of Croatian and Bosnian Muslim descent. He is dubbed “The Arab” because of his looks, although he has no Middle Eastern heritage. He is a “talented financial director” who has a gift for security. He earned his reputation by discovering one of his clients was being swindled by “creative bookkeeping” and then discovering who, out of a dozen suspects, was perpetrating the fraud. Now, at age fifty-six, he is the CEO of Milton Security, a company internationally recognized for its “cutting edge technology.” Armansky’s company specializes in everything from personal protection to international espionage.
One of the areas experiencing the most growth is the area of personal investigations, known in the business as “pinders.” Armansky has an innate dislike for this kind of work, primarily because of its potential to create scandal for the company; he keeps these jobs to a minimum. Milton Security’s best investigator is Lisbeth Salander. She has “the gift.”
Armansky is convinced that Salander can discover anything about anything. She reports her findings in an emotionless way, so even the most outrageous accusations and information are presented as simple fact. In the conservative world of Milton Security, Salander is an anomaly. She is pale and looks anorexic, though she eats everything. Her short, spiky hair is naturally red but it is now dyed raven black; her nose and eyebrows are pierced. She has a small wasp tattoo on her neck and a tattooed loop on both her left bicep and her left ankle; on her left shoulder blade she has a dragon tattoo. Salander looks like a fourteen-year-old girl, but she is actually twenty-four and almost looks Asian. Sometimes she wears black lipstick, and her clothes are generally avant garde.
Although she is rarely seen as pretty, Armansky believes she is attractive in an “inexplicable” way. Salander is a “quick-witted girl with a rather trying attitude.’’ She is the very “quintessence of difficult.” Her boss misjudged her from the beginning; when he asked her to do menial tasks, she did them haphazardly and poorly. One day she proved to him that his employees were ineffectual and their common practices were anything but “secure,” and he began to understand she was able to conduct a thorough investigation with documentation. He believes she suffers from a serious...
(The entire section is 849 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Friday, December 20–Saturday, December 21
Shortly after 5:00, Mikael Blomkvist finally shows up at the Millennium office. Erika Berger had been worried; now she is glad to see him. Janne Dahlman, the managing editor, has already left. That is just as well because Janne is competent at his job but sees only the negative in every situation. Christer Malm—part owner as well as art director and designer of the magazine—is off on a trip with his boyfriend. Berger has been feeling “disquiet” and senses things are about to explode.
In the weeks before the trial, Blomkvist had been walking around as if under a cloud of doom; his dejection after the trial is even worse. Berger reminds him they both know what happened and they are both to blame; they simply have to “ride out the storm.” He is adamant that he must step down as publisher of Millennium so the magazine can maintain some credibility. Wennerstrom knows that Blomkvist knows the truth (though he lost the case); because of this, Blomkvist believes nothing will deter the financier from destroying the publication. Berger suggests they print “everything they know,” but her partner insists they can prove nothing and must wait. He plans to take some time off—including his time in prison—and then make a new plan. For now, the two of them plan to spend the night together.
It is two o’clock in the morning. Berger is asleep; Blomkvist is awake but relaxed. They have always had this effect on one another. Their twenty-year relationship, though awkward for others, is comfortable and companionable for them even though it is not a permanent, share-a-home-and-mortgage kind of relationship. Sometimes they are together every day; at other times, weeks and even months go by when they are not together. It is a relationship that has caused pain and broken promises for others. His marriage collapsed because he was unable to stay away from Erika Berger. His wife knew of his feelings but hoped they would diminish after marriage and a daughter; Berger married Greger Beckman, and each of them intended to be faithful. Within weeks of starting Millennium, though, the passionate relationship began again. His infidelity caused his wife to leave him. Beckman, though, seems to accept the relationship and is content to share his wife with the other man. Blomkvist does not think very highly of the Beckman, but he is thankful that he and...
(The entire section is 789 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Monday, December 23–Thursday, December 26
Berger and Blomkvist consider their options—and their odds—for hours. On Christmas Eve Blomkvist finally convinces Berger it is best for everyone if he puts some distance between himself and Millennium, and he will work from home. The office is closed for the holidays, so he is surprised when the phone rings. It is Dirch Frode, a lawyer who represents a client who wants to meet with Blomkvist in person. Frode tells him his client is Henrik Vanger, who is eighty-two years old and cannot easily travel; he asks Blomkvist to take the train to Hedestad.
Henrik Vanger is a former industrialist, the head of Vanger Corporation, which includes textiles, steel, and sawmills; he has a reputation for being “an honorable, old-fashioned patriarch who would not bend in the wind.” Over the past twenty-five years, the family-owned business has been plagued by problems that have caused the company to fade into the background of the business world. Frode will only say that Vanger has personal business to discuss and would like to hire Blomkvist for a freelance assignment. The Wennerstrom publicity made Vanger take notice of him. Blomkvist wants to think about it and takes Frode’s number.
Blomkvist is intrigued enough to do some research on Frode and Henrik and Martin Vanger. He prints fifty pages of material and brings it home with his belongings; he does not know if he will ever be back.
Lisbeth Salander spends Christmas Eve at a nursing home. Her mother is forty-six years old and is struggling to unwrap her gifts. Salander looks at her with tenderness but fails to see any resemblance between them in looks or temperament. Lisbeth’s mother asks about her sister who never comes to visit; Lisbeth tells her mother she never sees her sister either. When her mother asks where she is living, Salander reminds her she is living in her mother’s house, having been forced to assume the payments several years ago. Her mother finally gets her gift open and thanks Camilla. Salander reminds her mother that her name is Lisbeth.
Blomkvist spends Christmas Eve with his daughter, Pernilla, at his ex-wife’s house. The couple divorced when Pernilla was five; Blomkvist has always allowed his daughter the freedom to decide how much time she wants to spend with him. They get along well, and she is convinced he is innocent of the charges. She tells him...
(The entire section is 908 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
Thursday, December 26
For the first time in Henrik Vanger’s storytelling, Mikael Blomkvist is surprised. There was no mention of murder in any of the research he did. Vanger continues. On Saturday, September 24, 1966, the Vanger family was gathered at the house for their “loathsome annual dinner.” Because these events usually became opportunities to squabble over business, they were “pretty detestable affairs.” Sixteen-year-old Harriet had attended the local Children’s Day parade and arrived back on the island at about 2:00. At 2:15, a horrible accident occurred between a farmer and an oil truck on the bridge connecting the mainland and the island, resulting in a conflagration.
Alarms were raised and people were suddenly everywhere: rescue workers, fire and emergency crews, reporters, onlookers. Nearly all of them were on the mainland side of the accident; on the island side, only a handful of people were able to help in any way. Although it had nothing to do with any of the Vangers, the accident served as a diversion and as a way to eliminate certain suspects for Harriet’s murder. The bridge was blocked for approximately twenty-four hours, and the minimal boat and ferry activity for non–rescue workers did not begin until very late Saturday night.
Forty members of the Vanger family, plus servants and residents (a total of sixty-four people), were on or near the family estate that day. Because Harriet’s parents were not able to provide a stable environment for their children, Harriet had lived in the main house for the past two years. The rest of the family was staying at various houses on the island. After Harriet arrived, she greeted Henrik’s older brother, Harald, and then saw Henrik. She told him she wanted to talk with him about something. He was busy at the time but remembers she seemed very anxious. A few minutes later, the accident on the bridge occurred—and that was the last time Henrik saw his beloved niece.
Emergency workers sent all but five people on the island away from the accident scene. At 2:40, Harriet was in the kitchen. At 2:55, she stopped to talk to the pastor, but he rushed away to help with the accident. Pastor Otto Falk was the last person to see Harriet alive. No one noticed her absence until around 8:00 that night, when Harriet did not come to dinner; however, no one thought too much about her absence. It was not until Isabelle went to find...
(The entire section is 792 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Thursday, December 26
Henrik Vanger has examined every photo taken the day Harriet disappeared. She does not appear in any photo taken after 3:00 though virtually everyone else on the island is in many of the photos and their whereabouts are generally documented. In photos of the house taken before about 3:45, Harriet’s bedroom window is closed; after that time, the pictures show an open window. Vanger’s theory is that the “killer struck” at or around 3:00. He did not use a weapon (there was no blood), then he placed Harriet’s body in the trunk of his car. There was a path leading away from Vanger’s house and a car could easily have gone unnoticed. The extensive searches all concentrated on the grounds and land, not vehicles. When Mikael Blomkvist remarks that this would have been a “cold-blooded” act, Vanger laughs bitterly and tells him that term applies to nearly his entire family.
Blomkvist is still hoping to make the evening train. Over dinner, he asks Vanger to tell him exactly why he brought him here. Vanger is finally direct—he wants the journalist to find the killer. Searching and wondering about Harriet’s fate has consumed him for thirty-six years. Although he is well adjusted in every other way, he has ruined his life wondering if he inadvertently caused his niece’s death. His initial motive was grief; now he wants the killer brought to justice. He has spent years gathering information about and dwelling on one day of his life. When Blomkvist suggests the killer may already be dead, Vanger tells him with great conviction that he is sure this is not true. Henrik Vanger has one more bit of evidence to show him, and it is “the most perplexing of all.”
Lisbeth Salander “borrows” a Milton Security vehicle and rings the bell of an apartment precisely at 6:00. She is admitted and goes up two flights of stairs before entering a dimly lit apartment and greeting Plague. Salander is short and petite; Plague dwarfs her in every way. He is on a government pension because he is deemed “socially incompetent.” His house smells of rotten food and more. Salander hands him five thousand kroner of her own money; in return she gets an electronic cuff he mentioned to her months ago. He shows her how it works. Salander thinks Plague may be a social incompetent but he is “unquestionably a genius.”
Blomkvist feels impatient as he listens to the story of the flowers....
(The entire section is 905 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Friday, January 3
Erika Berger watches as Mikael Blomkvist packs his suitcases and prepares to leave. She is incredulous that he is running away; he reminds her he will only be three hours away and will only be gone for one year—including the jail time he has to serve. Christer Malm listens to their exchange uncomfortably; it is the first time he has ever heard them disagree so vehemently. He sees a gulf opening between them and wonders if it is the beginning of the end for Millennium.
They ask his opinion about Blomkvist’s virtually abandoning the magazine. Malm is the third partner, but he knows the two of them are the real owners and it does not matter what he thinks. He feels as if this is more of a divorce than an argument and does not speak. Blomkvist says he needs a break after the stresses of the fall, and he believes his absence may divert Wennerstrom’s attention from Millennium and its advertisers. Finally, he sees this as his only chance to get Wennerstrom because no one else is willing to speak out against the powerful financier. Blomkvist reminds Berger that he is not actually leaving Millennium; he is just giving that appearance. Berger will be free to make whatever deals and compromises she must make with Wennerstrom during this virtual “cease-fire.”
Berger is furious. She is not upset about the story or the court case because she knows the story was accurate. She is not angry because she will look like a “harmless bimbo” rather than an equal partner. She is furious because the battle with Wennerstrom will continue but now she will have to fight him alone. Blomkvist is wrong; she is certain Wennerstrom will continue to target the magazine whether he is involved or not. Furthermore, the other member of the staff, Janne Dahlman, has not seemed particularly loyal but appeared to take great satisfaction during the proceedings against Blomkvist all fall.
Finally Malm speaks. He knows he is easily replaceable and not an equal third partner, but they asked for his opinion. He says they all owe Blomkvist time to recuperate if he needs it, and he agrees with Berger’s assessment of Dahlman. If there is sufficient cause, he is willing to fire him. It might be bad, but there is no choice. Malm will drive Blomkvist to the train station and will help keep things going at Millennium until he returns. Quietly, Berger says she is afraid...
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Part 2: Consequence Analysis
January 3–March 17
Blomkvist arrives in Hedestad. It is frigid and he “suddenly feels lonely and uncertain.” His lodgings are in a house reserved for long-term guests—the same house in which he lived with his parents in 1963. It is small, tidy, and clean. Vanger gives him a tour of the village and says the official explanation for his presence is that he is here to help write Vanger’s autobiography.
They see Gunnar Nilsson, caretaker and son of the caretaker who was working in 1966. Vanger owns all the land on Hedeby, with a few exceptions. One of these is the small house owned by Eugen Norman, an eccentric artist in his late seventies. Vanger’s brother Harald has a house nearby, but he is a recluse and the two brothers have hardly spoken in sixty years. Isabella, Harriet’s mother, also has a house on the island, but she is “not all there,” Vanger tells Blomkvist. Cecilia, Harald’s daughter, is shrewd and may be the only one to question the journalist’s true mission. Vanger likes and respects her. A beautiful, modern house belongs to Martin, Henrik’s nephew; it is located on the site of the old parsonage.
At the end of the tour, Blomkvist assures his host that he will write the book and faithfully read all the material on Harriet’s disappearance. He will work in his office in the guesthouse and meet with Vanger for several hours each afternoon to gather material for his biography. Once Blomkvist has read the material and has questions, he will add time to their interviews. Although he plans to appeal, Blomkvist may have to serve his prison time and hopes he can work on the biography while there. If Millennium needs him, he will have to return to Stockholm temporarily. Vanger understands and agrees to all of it; only if Blomkvist fails to work diligently will Vanger consider him to be in breach of their contract.
Vanger wants to discuss the possibility of placing advertising for his company in Millennium, but Blomkvist puts him off for tonight. At home, he unpacks everything he needs for “a year in exile.” Unfortunately, the building will not be wired for another day or two. He goes to the local grocery store and purchases a few staples for his house. He stops for a sandwich at the diner. Back at the guesthouse, he unloads his groceries, tries to call Berger, and listens to the absolute...
(The entire section is 913 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Monday, January 6–Wednesday, January 8
Blomkvist meets Martin, who accepts that he is here to write Henrik’s autobiography. Vanger shows the journalist an article gloating over the presumed demise of Millennium and descrying Erika Berger as a lightweight journalist and feminist. Vanger reminds Blomkvist that he should never pick a fight he cannot win but should also never allow an insult to go unpunished. Blomkvist gets out his tape recorder and asks Vanger to begin by telling him about each of his many family members.
Lisbeth Salander is hesitant to meet her new guardian, Nils Bjurman, for the second time. She is not afraid—she is rarely afraid—but she is uncomfortable. His predecessor, Holger Palmgren, was kind and courteous but had a stroke, so Bjurman inherited her case. For twelve years she has been “under social and psychiatric guardianship.” Two of these years were spent in a children’s clinic because at age thirteen she was deemed “emotionally disturbed and dangerously violent” toward her classmates and herself. She consistently and stubbornly refused to do anything anyone asked of her, as evidenced by her completion of nine years of compulsory schooling without receiving her certificate. She was no more cooperative with those attempting to diagnose her mental deficiencies.
At fifteen, largely through the efforts of her first trustee, Salander was released from psychiatric care and moved to foster care because her family was deemed dysfunctional. Four foster homes later, she was arrested several times for drugs, public intoxication, and assault. Salander again refused to speak and was again labeled as a social deviant who should be permanently incarcerated. In court, her (at the time) trustee became her lawyer, and Palmgren argued brilliantly that since she did not speak the recommendation was based on nothing but supposition. The court offered a compromise: Salander was deemed emotionally disturbed and was placed under Palmgren’s guardianship.
Eleven years later, she was the one who discovered Palmgren after he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Then she was assigned a new guardian. While she had been on almost familial terms with Palmgren and he had let her control her own finances, Bjurman insists on controlling every aspect of her finances, including managing her considerable savings and granting Salander a mere allowance. When he asks her about her job,...
(The entire section is 855 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Thursday, January 9–Friday, January 31
This January is the coldest month in Hedeby on record; temperatures drop to –35° F. Blomkvist’s pipes freeze and he is near tears and ready to take the train and head south, but he stays and begins to develop friendships with people on the island.
He has a moose steak dinner with Martin and his “lady friend,” Eva; she is a lovely woman and a dentist who lives in Hedestad. They are long-time friends who began dating when they were middle-aged and now see no need to marry. She stays with Martin every weekend, but she jokes about not wanting to marry into “this crazy family.” Martin’s joys in life are music and cooking. He is rather reckless as he speaks openly about his company’s business woes and asks how the family chronicle is coming along for Blomkvist. The journalist asks his host for an interview or two; he knows Martin must be aware of his great-uncle’s theories, but Martin says nothing about it.
One afternoon two weeks after he arrived, Cecilia Vanger comes to call on Blomkvist. She is not particularly happy about the book he is writing about her family and has come to see what kind of person he is; she is aware that her family has had more than its share of difficulties. Blomkvist assures her he will confine himself to only that which can be documented. What she really wants to know is if she is going to have to leave the country when the book is published. He tells her he has no intention of writing a book that puts the family in a bad light, though there are certainly negative things that will necessarily be part of the family chronicle.
Cecilia finally asks what she really wants to know: how much of the book will be consumed with Harriet’s disappearance? She suspects the journalist is here to further the investigation her uncle began because all of Henrik’s documents have been delivered to him. They have an off-the-record conversation in which Cecilia says very little about the disappearance other than she has no idea what happened but believes it was an accident with such a simple explanation that everyone will be shocked at the truth when it is revealed.
His meeting with Isabella does not go as well. The woman looks “like an ageing vampire” and has the disposition of a venomous snake. She is rude and tells Blomkvist not to bother her or ask her any questions. He is to “keep away...
(The entire section is 871 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Saturday, February 1–Tuesday, February 18
The weather is nice, so Blomkvist and Berger go for a walk. Vanger sees them and invites them in; he recognizes Berger and they chat charmingly before discussing business, two heads of companies. Vanger knows publishing because his family once owned six newspapers and still owns one. He asks Berger one question: was there a story? She tells him there was but “it was a different story.” Blomkvist berates himself for listening to an old friend. Vanger offers to become a partner in Millennium because he has the money and it will be a good investment. His one condition is that Blomkvist return as publisher.
They will write a joint press release that will send a clear signal to Wennerstrom, and other new companies will then be interested in advertising in Millennium. Vanger reminds them Wennerstrom is “not omnipotent” and has enemies who will be eager to see him fall. Dirch Frode and Martin Vanger join them for a pleasant dinner, and then they conduct two hours of business. They agree on a four-year contract with a costly buyout at the end of two years. Vanger will become a board member for the magazine; if he dies, Martin will take over his position. For maximum impact, they will announce the new arrangement on March 17—the same day Blomkvist turns himself in to the authorities and begins his prison term. During the entire conversation, Blomkvist is silent. No one consults him or even notices he is there. Later, Berger confesses she and Vanger have been planning this for a week. She was furious at being abandoned; Blomkvist is outraged at being bypassed.
As Blomkvist continues to study the documents, he discovers Harriet changed in the last year of her life in Hedeby. All accounts say she turned inward and became uncommunicative. She stopped talking about herself with friends, sharing gossip, and confiding; her friends said she became “impersonal.” Harriet had always been a Christian, but she became more religious. She explored the Pentecostal church and began reading books on Catholicism. Blomkvist reasons that something in her own life must have pushed her to these studies; perhaps it was her father’s accidental drowning. Morell had given this aspect of the case a lot of time and attention but got nowhere. Harald’s daughter Anita, two years older than Harriet, had been a close friend in the summer of 1966, but she had nothing...
(The entire section is 750 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Wednesday, February 19
Salander has enough physical evidence to convict her guardian of rape: bruises on her neck and his DNA on her body and clothing. Even if Bjurman claims she wanted to have sex with him, he is her guardian and would be convicted. Such an accusation might even reopen her case because the term “legally incompetent” (how Salander has been designated) can no longer be used for adults. Trusteeship is much less controlling than guardianship is, and that would be her best outcome. A guardian has the freedom to determine how stringently the laws will be applied. Palmgren allowed her almost complete freedom; Bjurman exercises the strictest control.
Despite the possible benefits, Salander has a deep-rooted fear of the police, so it never occurs to her to report the assault—“the police are not an option.” Her lack of reaction obviously angered Bjurman, but in Salander’s circle of acquaintances this is typical behavior for men and women. She sees men with power and women powerless to fight back as “the natural order of things.” Her experience has taught her that, “as a girl, she is legal prey.” However, she has determined her guardian will be punished.
Salander neither forgives nor forgets. In school she always got revenge on the many people who tormented her for being different. She was “an unloved girl with odd behavior” in elementary school. When she became a teenager and moved to high school, “All the Evil” happened. She had no options because she was already a ward of the court and feared incarceration or institutionalization more than she needed to get revenge.
Cecilia and Blomkvist talk about Harriet off the record. Cecilia tells him that one day Harriet would act like a religious fanatic and the next she would wear the makeup and clothing of a “whore.” Looking back, Cecilia can see the teenager kept up the pretense that all was well, but her family was in shambles. Her brother, Martin, had problems in school. Blomkvist observes that the Vangers “all have such low opinions of each other” and they certainly speak their minds.
Salander feels the need to confide in someone. As she surveys her list of friends, she narrows her choices to a mere ten; then she reconsiders, knowing she will have to reveal her secrets. Salander no longer feels the need to keep the people around her happy or appease them as she did in her late teens. She...
(The entire section is 548 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Thursday, February 20–Friday, March 7
Salander begins examining her guardian as if he were a client; she spends sixteen hours a day on her research. Nothing in his personal life or in his position as a trustee and guardian shows Nils Bjurman to be anything but an upstanding citizen and lawyer. Now she has no choice—he must “simply disappear from her life.” She reflects that heart attacks do not just happen to fifty-three-year-old men, even if they are disgusting, “but that sort of thing could be arranged.”
Blomkvist’s affair with Cecilia continues on her terms. Outside of her house she acts cool and distant but friendly; in the bedroom she is vibrant and passionate. He feels a bit disloyal asking questions about her, but his job is to investigate. He learns that though Cecilia left her husband long ago, she never divorced because she never wanted to remarry. Vanger says of her “she is one of the good people” in his family.
Salander spends a week planning how to get rid of Bjurman, taking Palmgren’s advice never to act on impulse. Only one condition must be met: she must never be linked to the crime. The authorities will talk to her as one of his clients, of course, but she has only met him four times—and she is legally incompetent. Surely a “mentally handicapped” girl can do no real harm. She considers using a gun, a knife, or a bomb but dismisses all of these ideas.
In the midst of her contemplations, Armansky calls to offer Salander a job; she abruptly refuses and hangs up on him.
Poison, she discovers, though strictly controlled, is easily produced with some basic equipment in a kitchen. Ultimately she abandons all these plans because there is no guarantee she will regain control of her life. She has analyzes the consequences, and it becomes clear to her that Bjurman will have to attack her again in order for her to break free of him. However, if her plan works, she will be free of him—or so she thinks.
Blomkvist has settled into a routine. He has 150 pages of the family history written, up through the 1920s. Now he will have to weigh his words more carefully because he will be writing about people who are still alive. He figures the book will take another three hundred pages and will be finished in September so Vanger can read it, and then he can make revisions before his contract is up at the end of the year. Despite progress on the...
(The entire section is 731 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Saturday, March 8–Thursday, March 17
Salander spends the next three days in bed before researching the psychopathology of sadism. Her research reveals Bjurman is a sick man, much different than the kind of man for which she had been prepared, though her only tears that night were tears of pain. Sadists, she discovers, prefer their victims to come voluntarily to them because they feel they have no choice. Salander is Bjurman’s victim. This observation makes her realize what she must be projecting to other people. Friday she visits a tattoo parlor to get a small tattoo on the thin skin of her ankle. It will hurt, but she will not mind. It will serve as a reminder.
Salander keeps her appointment with Bjurman. He is polite and welcoming; he says, “I suppose it was a bit rough last time.” He says she “looked a little subdued.” He sees something in her eyes that makes him wonder if he should slow down and build some trust, but his handcuffs are already out on the bedside table. Suddenly he realizes she is the one leading the way to the bedroom. He stops, puzzled, as she takes something out of her jacket. She tasers him—75,000 volts under his left armpit.
Blomkvist spends Saturday night alone reading because Cecilia did not call. She did not call because she realizes their relationship has somehow turned into a “ridiculous farce” where he sneaks around and she acts like a “lovesick teenage girl who cannot control herself.” Cecilia likes him too much and is afraid she will get hurt. Her husband abused her almost from the beginning. He once threw a pair of scissors at her; they lodged deep in her shoulder blades and left a gash that required twelve stitches. Her Uncle Henrik picked her up from the hospital and took her to his house.
Harald, her father, has always been crazy; she has done her best to accept the lunacy that ruined her life. The rift between them happened when Harald was seventy-three years old. He and his two children (Cecilia and Birger, a local politician) went hunting. Harald began spewing attacks about Cecilia’s sexual predilections that no man would obviously tolerate. Birger played along with his father, and Cecilia found herself so stunned she could hardly move—until she realized she had a loaded double-barreled shotgun aimed directly at them both. She took the car and left them stranded. She has never had contact again with her father. He “ruined her...
(The entire section is 915 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Part 3: Mergers, May 16–July 11
Friday, May 16–Saturday, May 31
Blomkvist is released on parole from prison on May 16 after only two months. The experience was “unstressful and pleasant enough.” He got to keep his computer and spent the time writing. Upon his release, Blomkvist goes directly back to his cabin in Hedeby, where he is greeted by the cat that has become part of his existence here.
He calls Berger but gets no answer. When Vanger sees Blomkvist, he gives him an unexpected hug. They have dinner together. Vanger is excited about working with the magazine. After dinner, Blomkvist goes to visit Cecilia. She is surprised and upset when she sees him; she asks him to leave without any explanation. Blomkvist stops to smoke on a rock and sees Martin out on his huge cruiser boat. Blomkvist’s house is bare because he returned the files on Harriet before he left for prison to keep them safe. Only one photo album is left. Blomkvist has looked at it before and dismissed it, but he suddenly has a thought and begins to re-examine the bridge pictures, where he sees Harald, Henrik, and Cecilia. He is reacting to something in the photos, but he is not sure what it is yet.
At 11:00 that night, Cecilia comes to Blomkvist’s cabin. She has decided not to hide their relationship any longer. She explains she fell in love with him and did not intend to resume their relationship after he was released from prison. They begin again. Berger walks in on them in bed the next day at noon and feels embarrassed. It is awkward, but Cecilia invites them both to dinner. Berger makes arrangements to stay in one of Vanger’s guest rooms. Berger and Blomkvist discuss the beginnings of Millennium’s financial comeback. Advertising contracts have increased and subscriptions have skyrocketed. Vanger comes to dinner as well, and he finally speaks openly about Blomkvist’s goal to find Harriet’s killer.
The weather has turned to spring, and Blomkvist borrows a map of the island and the key to Gottfried’s cabin. It is located in an isolated spot on the island and is rustic on the outside. Inside, the furnishings are basic and sparse, but it is nicer than the guesthouse although there is no electricity. It includes an eclectic selection of reading material. It is an innocuous and modest cabin to which Harriet came often. In the summer of 1966, she spent three months here;...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Sunday, June 1–Tuesday, June 10
After six months of thinking and questioning with no luck, Blomkvist finally has a breakthrough in Harriet’s case. There are three new pieces to the puzzle; he discovered two of them and got help with the third. After spending three hours looking at photos, he has a sudden insight. Most of the investigative attention has been given to the photos of the accident on the bridge; however, Blomkvist is arrested by the first photo taken of Harriet at the Children’s Day parade. It was probably taken from a first-floor window somewhere along the parade route. The crowd is doing what most crowds do—following the activities and sights around them. Some are looking at one thing, some are looking at another, but all of them are looking at things in front of them and they all look happy—all but one person.
Harriet’s head is turned to one side; she is looking at something just off the edge of the photo to her left. Her mouth is a thin line, her eyes are open wide, and her hands are hanging limp at her side. She looks frightened and furious. The photo was taken from too far away for Blomkvist to determine anything more, even with a magnifying glass. He immediately re-enacts the scene from the photo and finds the exact spot where Harriet was standing on that day in 1966. He looks left to where her gaze went in the photo and sees the Sundstroms’ Haberdashery building. Though he cannot prove it yet, Blomkvist is certain the chain of events he is investigating began in Hedestad hours before Hedeby Island and the bridge accident. Something prompted her to go home after the parade, but her Uncle Henrik did not have time to talk with her about it. Blomkvist now believes that is when the killer struck.
He explains his theory to Vanger and gets permission to examine the photographic archives of the Hedestad Courier. He needs to see all the photos of the Children’s Day parade in 1966. The photo editor at the newspaper guesses what he is researching, but Blomkvist maintains his cover story of writing a family history. He knows the equipment well and is able to work on his own. He finds a photo of Harriet’s open window and sees a face. The hair is lighter and the face is more mature than Harriet’s. The woman is wearing light-colored clothes; when Blomkvist examines other photos of that day, he sees that the only woman on the island who matches the image is Cecilia...
(The entire section is 552 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Wednesday, June 11–Saturday, June 14
The third clue in Harriet’s case comes to Blomkvist unexpectedly. He stops at Cecilia’s to see why she lied to the police about being in Harriet’s room the day Harriet disappeared. No one answers the door, but behind him he hears someone say, “Your whore isn’t home.” Blomkvist turns around to see Harald, splotched with liver spots, wearing his pajamas and dressing gown and carrying a cane. He is the picture of a “nasty old man.” Blomkvist stands nose-to-nose with him and defends Cecilia to her father before walking away from the old man.
When he tells Vanger about the confrontation, Vanger is not surprised. As a young lady, Cecilia fell in love with a nice boy who happened to be one-quarter Jewish. Ever since then, Harald (a Nazi sympathizer) has thought of his daughter as a whore and has not been quiet about his feelings. Cecilia is away on a vacation for a month. Blomkvist shows Vanger the Children’s Day parade photo and explains his theory. He does not mention the photo of the face in the window.
When Blomkvist arrives home, his daughter, Pernilla, is waiting for him on his front porch. Her mother told her where she could find him, and she wanted to stop to see him on her way to summer Bible camp. He is suddenly shocked to realize how alike Pernilla and Harriet are. Pernilla leaves for camp and tells him she loves him, religious beliefs or not; however, she wants him to continue his study of the Bible. Her comment is based on the Scripture references she noticed were pinned to his wall—the list of names, initials, and apparent phone numbers from the back of Harriet’s diary. Blomkvist had never considered the Bible as the key to Harriet’s code.
After Pernilla leaves, Blomkvist goes to Gottfried’s cabin and gets Harriet’s Bible. He discovers each of the verses, all underlined and all dealing with eternal damnation for those who practice harlotry, witchcraft, and more. All the references are violent and require some kind of sacrifice—like the case Inspector Morell told him about. In the late 1940s, a woman named Rebecka was raped and killed and her head was placed in smoldering coals. Blomkvist goes to see Vanger, who is ill with a summer cold. He remembers Rebecka Jackson, a woman in her early twenties who worked for Vanger Corporation, but he does not see a connection to Harriet’s murder, which took place seventeen...
(The entire section is 665 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Wednesday, June 18
Salander wakes with a start when the doorbell rings at 9:30 in the morning—something no one she knows ever does. Mikael Blomkvist invites himself into her home. He has bagels. She fumes that they do not even know each other, but he insists she knows him well. After she showers they talk. She likes discovering other people’s secrets, and he seems to know a few of hers. Blomkvist explains that he talked to Dragan Armansky, her boss, because he needs a skilled researcher to help him on a project. He wants Salander to help him find a murderer.
It takes Blomkvist an hour to explain everything, including Cecilia Vanger’s face in the window and the mysterious list of names and numbers. There are more names on the list. Rebecka’s is only the first. It appears that Rebecka was not the only victim, and he wants Salander to help him investigate the other four potential killings in the 1950s and 1960s, which are all somehow linked to Harriet Vanger. He has checked, and hers is the only potential murder connected to Hedestad. Salander is silent for a long time and then agrees as long as he is willing to sign a contract with Armansky.
They go to see Armansky, and he leaves to draw up the contract. When he re-enters the room, he sees Blomkvist with his hand placed casually on Salander’s shoulder; she even laughs at something the journalist says. The two of them are closer in five minutes than Armansky has ever been with her, and Armansky feels loathing for Blomkvist.
For the first time since the trial, Blomkvist visits the Millennium offices. It feels odd but familiar. From Berger he learns that Janne Dahlman is still spewing his negativity; she does not trust him. Blomkvist does not tell Berger why he is in town.
Blomkvist reflects on his new researcher; Salander is a “strange girl.” Salander reflects on her new boss. Blomkvist “crossed her threshold” by barging in on her—and she let him. Oddly, she feels no threat or hostility emanating from him. When he asked her how she accessed his computer he was not angry, he was simply curious. Unlike Blomkvist, Salander has no ethics. When she finds negative information, she reports it, based on her personal feelings about the client and the information. She believes bad people and their activities need to be revealed.
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Thursday, June 19–Sunday, June 29
Vanger’s condition is improving, but he looks ten years older. Blomkvist feels an unexpected tenderness for him. He tells the old man he has some new leads he is following, and he will have something more to tell him soon. Vanger tells Blomkvist he must finish even if Vanger dies before the mystery is resolved. Birger and Cecilia are both at the hospital and both of them get angry at Blomkvist for upsetting their uncle. Frode comes to call on his client and friend; he says he will back Blomkvist in honoring Vanger’s wishes but feels as if “a storm is brewing.”
Martin is the next to show up at the hospital. He is also upset that the journalist has upset his uncle. He asks for a Millennium board meeting because he will be replacing Vanger—by contract—while he is incapacitated. Blomkvist tells him there is no need for a meeting. At the guesthouse, the cat visits Blomkvist as usual.
Salander tunes up her custom-built Kawasaki and visits her mother in the nursing home. Once again, she does not seem to know her daughter during the entire three-hour visit.
Blomkvist tries to identify the car the couple in the photograph was driving, but it is a tedious and unproductive task. He travels to Norsjo to find the Norsjo Carpentry Shop, but it is no longer in existence. However, he is directed to a man named Burman. As he walks to the Burmans’, he stops and asks people about the couple in the photo; people suggest he go to the local retirement home. The old people there look at the photo but none of them recognize the couple. The Burmans used to own the Carpentry Shop but they do not know the couple; Burman offers to take Blomkvist to a coffee shop to see “some of the old guys.”
Salander has never done an investigation with so little starting information. She begins with the obvious key words in her search engine and actually finds something useful. A woman named Magda was savagely treated and murdered; she was left tied up in a kneeling position inside a horse stall. A cow was also stabbed but was not killed. This scene depicts the verse in Leviticus 20:16: “If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” It is certainly an odd crime, but Salander sees no immediate connection to Harriet Vanger.
Blomkvist goes with...
(The entire section is 702 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
Tuesday, July 1–Wednesday, July 2
Blomkvist visits Frode and learns that Vanger’s condition has improved. Everyone is thankful he is no longer in critical condition. The journalist confirms with the lawyer that, though Martin will take Vanger’s place on the Millennium board if anything happens to his uncle, he will not be allowed to interfere in any significant way, as Blomkvist fears he might. Off the record, Frode tells Blomkvist that Vanger Corporation is in trouble and getting worse. Martin has been pushing for Blomkvist to abandon his uncle’s project of investigating Harriet’s disappearance, probably at Cecilia’s prompting.
Blomkvist visits with Martin and tells him he will be finishing his contract with Vanger. Martin seems torn between loyalty to his uncle and the magazine. Frode tells Blomkvist it is actually Isabella and Birger who want the investigator gone, not Cecilia. A reporter from the Hedestad Courier calls Blomkvist for an interview regarding journalists who falsify material. Blomkvist simply dismisses the reporter and the line of questioning.
Salander rides her motorcycle to Hedeby. Blomkvist has borrowed a camp bed and cooks for Salander while she showers and changes. As they settle in to eat, Salander realizes she had been wary about being in such proximity to Blomkvist but senses no threat from him. She shows him the research she has done. There are five murders that match the names and verses on Harriet’s list. In addition, she discovered three more odd murders with the same general pattern and matching scriptures. All of them happened between 1949 and 1966, and they are all grotesque parodies of Old Testament mandates against unclean women and sin.
All they have to do now is find the connection to the Vanger family. The women’s names are all biblical, which means all of them are probably Jewish. It is a curious coincidence that several Vangers were active in the anti-Semitic Nazi movement. Salander was hired to find the murders connected to Harriet’s diary, which she has done. Technically, her job is over; however, Blomkvist says he would like to keep her on as his research assistant. His working theory is that they are looking for a serial killer. Salander has made her judgment about the killer, just as she makes judgments about everyone she researches. Her theory is that the man who committed these murders is a woman hater, not...
(The entire section is 408 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Thursday, July 3–Thursday, July 10
Salander has hacked Blomkvist’s computer for his files on Harriet and added his information to the information she has already gathered. Martin comes to visit with bad news—the Hedestad Courier has published an article about the fact that Mikael Blomkvist, the “convicted libel journalist,” is residing in Hedeby. The article is slanted and unflattering and potentially damaging to Millennium. Martin is appalled to discover that one of his own family members, Birger, is the one who ordered that the piece be written. Blomkvist is unperturbed and thinks it is absurd that Birger is attacking a magazine with such close family connections. Martin makes plans to counterattack to defend Millennium’s reputation—and suddenly Martin becomes a strong ally to Blomkvist both for the magazine and for the investigation of Harriet’s disappearance.
Blomkvist suspects Gunnar Karlman of Harriet’s murder. He was the right age and lived on the island at the right time; he would have been eighteen in 1966. He gives Salander all the research to read later as he tells her about his trip to Norsjo. He shows her the blurry photo that will get no better, even with digital enhancements. Salander is an effective researcher who is able to skim large volumes of writing and ascertain key facts quickly; however, she remains silent when it comes to sharing anything personal.
Salander is suspicious of the pastor at Hedeby in 1966, Otto Falk. He had knowledge of the Bible and was the last person to see Harriet alive. In addition, her earlier research on sadism (done after the assault by her guardian Nils Bjurman) revealed that sadists are also often arsonists—and the parsonage burned to the ground in the late 1970s. Salander also contemplates Blomkvist as one of the only men who has ever treated her as a normal female. After some reflection, she determines she would like to have sex with him, and she initiates the contact.
Blomkvist is willing but stunned because she has never indicated the slightest interest in anything but their work. In the morning, Salander leaves the guesthouse to get some milk at the store; almost immediately she returns, shaken, and tells Blomkvist to come see something. He is appalled to find that someone has mutilated and burned the cat that often visited at the guesthouse and left it on his front steps. The cat’s head is...
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
Thursday, July 10
Salander takes photos of the “macabre tableau” of the mutilated cat before Blomkvist clears it all away. She sees it as a warning and suspects Harald or Isabella because they are the right age. Blomkvist does not agree; he reasons that it is more likely someone from the younger generation. Salander leaves for Stockholm to “pick up some gadgets” for their protection. She tells Blomkvist to purchase two smoke alarms and two fire extinguishers while she is gone.
Blomkvist meets with Frode and asks him some questions. Blomkvist explains that while he was in Stockholm, his office was broken into and someone saw his list of Bible references hanging on the wall and the photos he has been working on. Frode tells him many people already know about the work he is doing and the leads he is pursuing. In addition to Vanger and Frode, Martin (who arranged his access to the newspaper photo archives), Birger, Cecilia, Alexander, Gunnar and Helen Nilsson, and Anita (Cecilia’s sister in London) all know what he is investigating.
As he is leaving the hospital, Blomkvist meets Martin. He looks tired and seems to have aged significantly over the past six months. Cecilia still will not talk to Blomkvist. Now the cat incident seems even more ominous to Blomkvist.
Blomkvist locates Otto Falk, now 72, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. He talks about Harriet in the present tense, unaware that she has been gone for thirty-seven years. The former pastor tells Blomkvist that he must warn Harriet, for she is “still a seeker.” He wants her to read only canon Scripture; the others will lead her astray. Harriet loves magic and has not yet found God; Falk says she needs guidance because she is “looking for a forbidden truth. She is not a good Christian.”
After installing the smoke alarms and the fire extinguishers, Blomkvist goes to visit the current pastor in Hedeby. She explains that the canonized Bible is the only true Word of God; the Apocrypha, which comprises books not generally accepted as part of the Bible, is not unusual in the Catholic faith but is quite controversial in the Protestant Church because it talks about subjects such as witchcraft.
When Salander is in Stockholm, she visits Armansky to tell him of her new contract and make sure he approves. After she leaves, he is concerned because she has always seemed to be the “perfect victim” and...
(The entire section is 698 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
Friday, July 11
Blomkvist awakens early and ponders Salander’s tattoos as she sleeps. His next thoughts are of Harriet. Whoever Harriet thought was a threat then is too old to be the current threat. Blomkvist believes Cecilia was telling the truth when she denied being the woman in the window, so he re-examines the photos. Suddenly he notices Greger Vanger also had a camera on that day. Blomkvist also realizes Salander is so effective as a researcher because she has a photographic memory. When he tells her he knows about her memory, “her reaction is almost explosive.” She looks at him with fury in her eyes before she runs off. Blomkvist easily finds her, and she explains that she feels like a freak when others learn of her ability, even though it is helpful in her job.
Salander remembers a Bible verse about cutting a sacrifice in pieces before splattering the blood on the church door. They immediately go to the church but see no blood, then they see the Vanger crypt. After retrieving the key from Vanger’s housekeeper, they discover that the cat was mutilated here. They find a blowtorch, a bolt cutter, and fresh blood. This confirms to them that the killer is a “complete lunatic” because he came to this place, despite the likelihood of being seen. He is compulsive and could not make the sacrifice just anywhere.
They go to see Frode, who apologizes for making erroneous assumptions about Salander when they first met. He is appalled that someone shot at Blomkvist. When asked who has access and the key to the family vault, Frode tells them Henrik has a key; Isabella goes to the crypt but he does not know if she has a key. Blomkvist asks that Salander be given access to all the old press clippings that concern the Vanger Corporation; Frode will ask Greger’s son, Alexander, about any photos he may have taken the day Harriet was murdered.
When Blomkvist gets a pile of Greger’s photos from Alexander, Blomkvist finds many family photos that will be perfect for the book. The rest of the pictures do not appear to have any real value, but he scans them into his computer nevertheless. Blomkvist also asks Anna, Vanger’s housekeeper, for any other pictures and sees a family photo from dinner on the night of the bridge accident. For the first time in any of the photos, he sees a woman who could be Cecilia’s twin sister. He realizes it was not Cecilia in Harriet’s window that day—it...
(The entire section is 876 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Part 4: Hostile Takeover, July 11–December 30
Martin finds the key to Gottfried’s cabin in Blomkvist’s pocket. When Blomkvist asks Martin why he does such evil things, Martin answers, “because it’s so easy.” Women disappear all the time and no one misses them, he says. Blomkvist is shocked to realize that Martin is still killing women. Martin tells him his latest victim, Irina from Belarus, was actually locked in the cage all winter.
He disposes of the bodies by taking them out to sea; unlike his father, he leaves no traces of his victims. In contrast, Gottfried “spread his victims out all over Sweden.” Martin learned from his father. The first murder he just watched; the next woman he raped and strangled while his father watched. Martin brags he is really a serial kidnapper and rapist; he only kills to get rid of the bodies. Blomkvist is now naked and inside the cage.
Salander finally makes the connection between Gottfried and Martin and exits from the nearest door of the Vanger offices, neglecting to notify the night watchman. At the guest house she sees Blomkvist is gone, so she checks the surveillance images recorded on her computer. The last image is of Martin trying to open the cottage door, disgusted to discover they changed the lock. Suddenly Salander is afraid.
Martin leaves. When he returns, Blomkvist asks him why he killed his own sister. Martin is outraged and demands to know what happened to Harriet. Gottfried and Martin tried to initiate her, but she was planning to tell Henrik their family secret. Martin had plans to kill her but could not get back to the island because of the accident on the bridge. He does not know what happened to Harriet. Martin prepares his prisoner for a painful molestation, including being hung by a leather noose. He tells Blomkvist the only other man he ever touched was his father, but that was “his duty.” The noose begins to tighten.
Salander arrives in time to hear Martin’s intent. When she makes her presence known, Martin grabs his pistol. At the same time, Salander swings the golf club she had hidden at her side, breaking his collarbone. Blomkvist is stunned at the feral anger and violence he sees in Salander as she attacks Martin. Blomkvist finally calls to her because he is near suffocation from the noose. She has to cut his neck a bit to release the pressure of the leather strap. Martin is sneaking away...
(The entire section is 547 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Saturday, July 12–Monday, July 14
While Blomkvist sleeps, Salander goes back to Martin’s basement to examine and photograph the crime scene. She finds pornographic magazines, torture devices, and Polaroid photos in albums. She does not find a diary, but she does find passport photos and handwritten notes about each of Martin’s victims. She takes it all and his computer. She reads everything that night, wondering how such a thing could happen: one or two women have been murdered every year for fifteen years without anyone actively searching for a killer. She discovers the victims were often new arrivals in the country or immigrants—the outcasts, the friendless, and the troubled.
It becomes clear to her that Martin loved the hunt. On his laptop she finds a database of all the women he met; all of them were potential victims. Countless hours had been dedicated to the hunt. Salander keeps two photographs of one woman, then she burns the binders and drops the laptop into the water under the bridge.
Frode barges into the guesthouse at 7:30 in the morning. Because Blomkvist is sleeping, he tells Salander about Martin’s accident. She is unmoved by the news, and the lawyer is appalled by her lack of concern. When he looks in at Blomkvist, Frode is shocked at the physical trauma he has suffered and then collapses on a bench in the kitchen. Salander tells him everything without emotion. She will leave the next steps to him but will deny any involvement in the incident. She gives him the key to Martin’s basement chamber but insists he leave the two of them out of anything concerning Martin.
Frode wants to tell everything and says the victims’ families will want to know. Salander simply reminds him he has some time to think and to do what is best for everyone involved. She suggests he first do what must be done when the CEO of a major corporation dies, because many people are dependent on the company.
Blomkvist cannot go to the police now, though he wants to; it is too long after the fact. Condolences are pouring in to Isabella, Martin’s mother, but Blomkvist and Salander concentrate on the mystery of Harriet. Salander shows Blomkvist the two photos she took from Martin’s basement. Both are of a young girl; in one photo she is half naked and in the other she is completely naked on a bed. Blomkvist believes it might be Harriet and explains what he learned about Martin. He...
(The entire section is 834 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
Tuesday, July 15–Thursday, July 17
Blomkvist flies to Alice Springs, Australia, and rents a car for the last 250 miles of his journey. He is going to the place Trinity found after tracing Anita’s phone conversation, a sheep farm called Cochran Farm. He did some research before coming to Australia, and he discovered that Spencer Cochran inherited the farm from his father but died in 1994. His widow now runs the farm. The couple was married in 1971, and her name is Anita. Blomkvist calls Berger in New York to tell her his work for Vanger is nearly completed.
When he gets to the farm, he explains he is looking for Anita Cochran; one of the hands offers to drive him. When they finally arrive, Blomkvist sees a woman with short, blonde hair wearing a red-checked shirt and jeans. Blomkvist says to her, in Swedish, “Hi, Harriet. It’s been a long time.” No one around her understood him, but the woman is shocked at these words coming from a stranger; the hired hands are immediately ready to defend her. Blomkvist reminds her that she was his babysitter one summer long ago in Hedeby and she relaxes a bit.
Blomkvist tells Harriet he saw her brother, Martin, just a few minutes before he died, and he shows her the scars on his neck. She wants to hear the entire story, so he tells her everything. He knew Anita had to be her confidante because they spent six weeks together that summer. Blomkvist plans to tell only Henrik about Harriet’s existence, so she talks to him. She tells him that Anita drove her off the island in the trunk of her car and loaned her money. Harriet stayed in a convent for a while, which is where she met Spencer Cochran. She was using the name Anita because she looked enough like her cousin to use her passport. Spencer and Harriet got married and lived here on the farm happily for years.
Blomkvist asks why she could not confide in Henrik, and Harriet says he must not understand everything about her situation yet or he would not ask such a question. Harriet introduces Blomkvist to one of the hands, her son, and tells him she has another son and a daughter. She then sends her son away and prepares to confess the whole story to Blomkvist.
When Harriet was sixteen, she told Anita about the sexual assaults from her brother and father but not about the murders they committed. Harriet did, however, tell Anita about the crime she committed and for which she hid in the...
(The entire section is 577 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
Saturday, July 26–Monday, July 28
Blomkvist takes Salander to her mother’s funeral and stays by her side. When the ceremony begins, they are the only two in attendance besides the pastor. Armansky comes in and puts his hand on her shoulder, which she acknowledges with a nod, then ignores both men. Salander does not speak a word. On their drive to Hedeby, Blomkvist tells her about finding Harriet and hearing her story.
Salander is furious that Harriet could have done something back in 1966 that would have prevented so many women’s being raped and killed by Martin over the past thirty-seven years. Blomkvist tries to explain Harriet’s lack of choices, but Salander has no sympathy. She even turns her anger toward him. Calmly, Blomkvist tells her he would like to be her friend if she wants a friend.
When Blomkvist visits Vanger, he learns that Frode has told him everything he knows about Martin and Gottfried. Vanger is ashamed. Blomkvist tells him everything he has learned since the ordeal with Martin; he tells him that Harriet is in Hedestad and can be here in an hour if he would like to see her. Vanger is silent; he finally says he wishes Harriet had confided in him. Blomkvist explains that Harriet is afraid her uncle will not want to see her after knowing what she did, and she sent the flowers because she still loves him and hoped he would get the message that she was okay. Henrik wants to see Harriet.
When Harriet arrives, Blomkvist barely recognizes her because she has dyed her hair brown again and is wearing more professional clothing. Vanger looks at her from top to bottom; Harriet kisses his cheek. Frode and Blomkvist discreetly leave the room.
When Blomkvist gets back to the guesthouse, he sees that Salander has taken all her belongings as well as the surveillance equipment. He sees Isabella arrive home in a taxi. Frode arrives to tell him Isabella went to the hospital to tell Vanger to drop the investigation of Harriet’s disappearance and that Blomkvist drove Martin to his death. When Harriet said hello to her mother, Isabella accused Blomkvist of “dragging in an impostor.”
Salander is driving, and she is angry. She is angry at the Vangers for needing her but not caring about her otherwise. She is angry about her mother’s death because her questions will never get answered. She is angry at Armansky for attending the funeral; she had to ignore him...
(The entire section is 906 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
Tuesday, July 29–Friday, October 24
Blomkvist has been looking at the boxes of data Salander has gathered on Wennerstrom: companies, accounts, funds, securities. All of them are interconnected in a labyrinthine structure. Salander explains she placed an electronic cuff (Plague’s invention; she volunteered to test it for him) on Wennerstrom’s broadband cable, and all the data on his computer comes to her. Blomkvist receives a call that Janne Dahlman is on holiday and was seen with someone from a rival financial magazine—one owned by the Wennerstrom group. Blomkvist and Salander go to the Millennium offices and access Dahlman’s computer. He has been spying for Wennerstrom since at least last fall.
The only call Blomkvist makes is to Christer Malm; he tells him the news but instructs him not to fire Dahlman. Instead, he calls a meeting for the next afternoon. When everyone has gathered, he tells them his plan—they are all to act as if Millennium is going to collapse by Christmas. Blomkvist tells them Dahlman has been spying, so no one must put any of this discussion in writing. As far as everyone else is concerned, the truth must be that the magazine is sinking. Blomkvist also asks them to start complaining about him to each other and to propagate all false information as it is given to them.
Berger will begin talking about layoffs at the end of August, though he assures them their jobs are all safe and the partnership with Vanger is secure. They will submit false reports regarding advertising revenue and a decrease in subscriptions. It must all remain internal, so any leaks can be traced to no one but Dahlman. The staff does not like Dahlman, so it is easy for Blomkvist to convince them to play along with the charade. Malm has the task of convincing Berger that this is a wise plan so Wennerstrom will not get suspicious.
The truth is that Blomkvist should be the one to contact Berger, but he cannot bear to face her after having covered up Martin’s story, and he would never consider lying to her. After the meeting, Blomkvist goes to the cabin he inherited from his parents and spends countless hours in front of his computer. Salander visits him and finds him unshaven and hollow-eyed. Salander likes his cabin and manages to distract Blomkvist from his work occasionally. She is “strangely content with life” and stays for five days before she has to leave for...
(The entire section is 829 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
Saturday, November 1–Tuesday, November 25
Salander has spent four weeks relentlessly pursuing her idea. Because Blomkvist has also been busy, they have had only intermittent contact. She keeps going over the details to be certain everything is correct, but she is still not sure she understands how it is all connected. Wennerstrom is rich but not as rich as the analysts say he is. He has some large, legitimate, Swiss and American holdings—but he is also involved in the illegal weapons trade, money laundering, and other unorthodox business dealings in Russia and Colombia. He also has an offshore bank account.
When she sees an e-mail from Wennerstrom asking if the rumors about Millennium are true, she tells Blomkvist and he immediately gets extra security for the offices and books a new printer for this issue in case of sabotage. Salander asks to meet Blomkvist and wants to borrow 120,000 kroner for an investment. (She knows he has that much because she hacked his bank account.) He tells her he will be splitting his fee from Vanger with her as soon as he gets it, but she only wants this amount—and gifts on her birthday.
Salander uses part of the money to buy two fake passports and is now in Zurich in the guise of Irene Nesser, a blond Norwegian woman. After she rests, she covers her tattoos and buys another blond wig (in a different style), gets fake nails painted a garish pink, and lots of expensive makeup. She pays with a credit card in the name of Monica Sholes, the name on her fake British passport. She spends a lot of money on everything, including clothes; then she books another room in a hotel in the name of Monica Sholes.
On her computer, Salander starts a program she wrote that will ensure that Wennerstrom will see nothing but normal activity when he checks his bank accounts, even if the activity is not typical. She makes obvious appearances on surveillance cameras and leaves a strong impression at the bank when she asks to have money transferred from her offshore account. The banker is dubious, but all her paperwork is in order. Afterward, she goes back to the first hotel and dresses as Irene Nesser before she goes to another bank and opens five accounts with one million kroner each drawn from the accounts she created earlier. She uses the money to pay the invoices on fictional companies all over the world, and the money ends up in her offshore account—a different...
(The entire section is 586 words.)
Epilogue: Final Audit
Thursday, November 27–Tuesday, December 30
Millennium’s story on Wennerstrom takes up forty-six pages of the magazine and “explodes like a bombshell” the last week in November. It has a joint byline: Erika Berger and Mikael Blomkvist. The rest of the media is not sure what to do because the last article on Wennerstrom was so disastrous and the magazine’s level of credibility in this area is so low. While the Swedish news media waits, the rest of the world takes the story and runs it everywhere. Finally the truth has been revealed, and the Millennium staff celebrates.
For several weeks, the Swedish Stock Exchange wavers as investigations are launched. The accusations begin to be proven true, and the financial world reels at the massive fraud. Wennerstrom is part of a new Mafia. Blomkvist does not make himself available for comment during the first few days after the article’s release; Berger takes all the calls and makes all the comments. Soon Blomkvist is seen as a hero who did not defend himself at his trial to protect his source, and the magazine is getting fawning reviews.
Five days after the article is published, Blomkvist’s book The Mafia Banker is on the bookshelves. The dedication reads, “To Sally, who showed me the benefits of the sport of golf.” It is 608 pages long, and it was written while he was at his cabin. Every detail is meticulously documented. Blomkvist is brilliant in a television interview when he blames financial reporters for allowing Wennerstrom to create an inflated worth, so now the Stock Exchange is plummeting. After that interview, the Wennerstrom affair gets subtly shifted from financial news desks to criminal news departments. Even some of Wennerstrom’s colleagues break their code of silence and condemn Wennerstrom’s actions in order to distance themselves from the scandal.
Only Wennerstrom himself is silent; he only speaks through his lawyers. He has disappeared. Later, Wennerstrom is found dead in an apartment in Spain, shot three times in the head at close range. Salander is not surprised at his death because he had no money in his offshore account with which to pay his Colombian debts. No one ever asked her, but she always knew where Wennerstrom was. She simply left a message containing his address for one of the people from whom Wennerstrom was hiding....
(The entire section is 682 words.)