Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 849
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 emotional problem but is intelligent and deserves a chance.
Salander, however, is not amenable to the Milton Security office routine; she was “like a nagging itch, repellent and at the same time tempting.” She is fascinating but not part of Armansky’s real life; he is protective of her, but she punishes him for it. It is a “destructive hold” she has on him. Finally, she concedes to being friends with her boss, and he agrees to make her a freelance investigator. Both parties win. Milton Security pays her but escapes any scandal or embarrassment she might cause. Salander never meets with clients—until today.
Dirch Frode is a lawyer who contracted with Milton Security to learn everything about Mikael Blomkvist. Salander’s report documents that the journalist is forty-two years old. Both his parents are dead; he has a younger sister, Annika, who is a lawyer. He got decent grades in school and spent some time traveling and a year in the military before finishing his degree in journalism. He became a political and financial reporter and caused several resignations and prosecutions by his reporting. He has written two books, but he is not rich. In fact, his time in jail combined with his fine will nearly erase his savings. He makes a living freelancing and is the publisher of Millennium magazine.
After presenting these facts, Salander is uncharacteristically personal in her assessment. Her extensive research leads her to believe that what Blomkvist wrote about Wennerstrom was true, as least as far as he knew. Her impression is that it is out of character for Blomkvist to write such lies; she hesitantly adds that she believes he was set up or tricked. She saw him in court and he seemed to have just given up, as if he knew he had been “had.” As she speaks of the Wennerstrom case, Frode shows interest for the first time. He asks them to investigate the closed case because he knows Wennerstrom has been dishonest in the past.
Armansky feels nervous and hesitant—both about taking the case and about Salander, who is potential trouble in nearly every way. He feels as if she is “heading for disaster,” and he wants to protect her. Salander continues her report, noting that Blomkvist was married in 1986, the same year his daughter Pernilla was born, and now he is divorced. There is one matter that is not particularly secret, but it is private. He is in a relationship with Erika Berger, the editor-in-chief of Millennium and the wife of Greger Beckman, “a minor celebrity who has done a lot of terrible things in public venues.” The husband is aware of Mikael Blomkvist and the fact that his wife spends half her time at his house.
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