Chapter 8 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 913

Part 2: Consequence Analysis

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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 stillness of the night around him. His biggest fear is that he will go “stir-crazy” this year.

Blomkvist wakes up uncharacteristically early the next morning and goes to town for clothing for the bitterly cold weather. That afternoon Helena Nilsson, Gunnar’s wife, brings him a cake. He also receives four packing crates of files and pictures. He spends the afternoon making an inventory of the contents of the boxes, which fill twenty feet of shelving. There are twenty-six binders that hold the Hedestad police department’s records in addition to scrapbooks, photo albums, maps, notebooks of Vanger’s observations, and binders full of information on Vanger’s family members compiled by Henrik. That evening he hears a loud purring at the door; a reddish-brown cat enters the house and makes himself at home.

Hours later, Blomkvist is familiar with the scope of the materials and starts his investigation by filling in the names of family members on a map. At midnight, he goes for a walk to the bridge and grows depressed. He suddenly wonders how he ended up in this place, doing this task, though he has no idea what else he could or should be doing. If it were daytime, he would pack up and go home; instead, he notices lights on above the diner, at Martin’s mansion, and at Cecilia’s house.

In the morning he is shocked out of bed by the church bells and walks again through town until the churchgoers go home and he is able to find an empty table at Susanne’s Bridge Café, where he begins reading one of the police binders on the investigation. Even in this small village he is known because of the trial. When Susanne announces she is closing the diner, Blomkvist goes home and tries to call Berger for the third time and once again leaves a message. She is obviously still furious at him.

By the end of the evening he has finished the first binder and has his own list of questions. After the initial call (made by Vanger) and the preliminary investigation, Inspector Gustaf Morell assumed the case. His notes are clear and his investigation was thorough. In order, he questioned Henrik’s mother; his brothers, Harald and Greger; Harriet’s brother, Martin; and several others. Morell instituted a search of the island and searched Harriet’s room with her mother Isabelle, who was not particularly helpful. The girl’s personal items all seemed to be there. After that search revealed nothing, Morell ordered a more systematic search.

The first twenty-four hours were rather confusing because of the accident as well as the disappearance. From the notes, Blomkvist surmises that everything had been done and done correctly, though he senses the inspector’s frustration at not knowing what the next step should be. Morell could not know that this is everything that would be known for decades and would mark the beginning of Henrik Vanger’s “years of torment.”

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