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...

(The entire section is 636 words.)