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 sitting on the seat of Salander’s motorcycle.