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HOME > Classical Novels > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo > CHAPTER 13
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Thursday, February 20–Friday, March 7

During the last week of February Salander acted as her own client, with Bjurman, N., born 1950, as a high-priority special project. She worked almost sixteen hours every day doing a more thorough personal investigation than she had ever done before. She made use of all the archives and public documents she could lay her hands on. She investigated his circle of relatives and friends. She looked at his finances and mapped out every detail of his upbringing and career.
The results were discouraging.
He was a lawyer, member of the Bar Association, and author of a respectably long-winded but exceptionally tedious dissertation on finance law. His reputation was spotless. Advokat Bjurman had never been censured. On only one occasion was he reported to the Bar Association—he was accused nearly ten years ago of being the middleman in an under-the-table property deal, but he had been able to prove his innocence. His finances were in good order; Bjurman was well-to-do, with at least 10 million kronor in assets. He paid more taxes than he owed, was a member of Greenpeace and Amnesty International, and he donated money to the Heart and Lung Association. He had rarely appeared in the mass media, although on several occasions he had signed his name to public appeals for political prisoners in the third world. He lived in a five-room apartment on Upplandsgatan near Odenplan, and he was the secretary of his co-op apartment association. He was divorced and had no children.
Salander focused on his ex-wife, whose name was Elena. She was born in Poland but had lived all her life in Sweden. She worked at a rehabilitation centre and was apparently happily remarried to one of Bjurman’s former colleagues. Nothing useful there. The Bjurman marriage had lasted fourteen years, and the divorce went through without disputes.
Advokat Bjurman regularly acted as a supervisor for youths who got into trouble with the law. He had been trustee for four youths before he became Salander’s guardian. All of these cases involved minors, and the assignments came to an end with a court decision when they came of age. One of these clients still consulted Bjurman in his role as advokat, so there did not seem to be any animosity there either. If Bjurman had been systematically exploiting his wards, there was no sign of it, and no matter how deeply Salander probed, she could find no trace of wrongdoing. All four had established lives for themselves with a boyfriend or girlfriend; they all had jobs, places to live, and Co-op debit cards.
She called each of the four clients, introducing herself as a social welfare secretary working on a study about how children hitherto under the care of a trustee fared later in life compared to other children. Yes, naturally, everyone will be anonymous. She had put together a questionnaire with ten questions, which she asked on the telephone. Several of the questions were designed to get the respondents to give their views on how well the trusteeship had functioned—if they had any opinions about their own trustee, Advokat Bjurman wasn’t it? No-one had anything bad to say about him.
When Salander completed her ferreting, she gathered up the documents in a bag from Ica and put it out with the twenty bags of old newspapers out the hall. Bjurman was apparently beyond reproach. There was nothing in his past that she could use. She knew beyond a doubt that he was a creep and a pig, but she could find nothing to prove it.
It was time to consider another option. After all the analyses were done, one possibility remained that started to look more and more attractive—or at least seemed to be a truly realistic alternative. The easiest thing would be for Bjurman simply to disappear from her life. A quick heart attack. End of problem. The catch was that not even disgusting fifty-three-year-old men had heart attacks at her beck and call.
But that sort of thing could be arranged.

Blomkvist carried on his affair with Headmistress Cecilia Vanger with the greatest discretion. She had three rules: she didn’t want anyone to know they were meeting; she wanted him to come over only when she called and was in the mood; and she didn’t want him to stay all night.
Her passion surprised and astonished him. When he ran into her at Susanne’s, she was friendly but cool and distant. When they met in her bedroom, she was wildly passionate.
Blomkvist did not want to pry into her personal life, but he had been hired to pry into the personal lives of everyone in the Vanger family. He felt torn and at the same time curious. One day he asked Vanger whom she had been married to and what had happened. He asked the question while they were discussing the background of Alexander and Birger.
“Cecilia? I don’t think she had anything to do with Harriet.”
“Tell me about her background.”
“She moved back here after graduating and started working as a teacher. She met a man by the name of Jerry Karlsson, who unfortunately worked for the Vanger Corporation. They married. I thought the marriage was a happy one—anyway in the beginning. But after a couple of years I began to see that things were not as they should be. He mistreated her. It was the usual story—he beat her and she loyally defended him. Finally he hit her one time too many. She was seriously hurt and ended up in the hospital. I offered my help. She moved out here to Hedeby Island and has refused to see her husband since. I made sure he was fired.”
“But they are still married?”
“It’s a question of how you define it. I don’t know why she hasn’t filed for divorce. But she has never wanted to remarry, so I suppose it hasn’t made any difference.”
“This Karlsson, did he have anything to do with…”
“…with Harriet? No, he wasn’t in Hedestad in 1966, and he wasn’t yet working for the firm.”
“Mikael, I’m fond of Cecilia. She can be tricky to deal with, but she’s one of the good people in my family.”
Salander devoted a week to planning Nils Bjurman’s demise. She considered—and rejected—various methods until she had narrowed it down to a few realistic scenarios from which to choose. No acting on impulse.
Only one condition had to be fulfilled. Bjurman had to die in such a way that she herself could never be linked to the crime. The fact that she would be included in any eventual police investigation she took for granted; sooner or later her name would show up when Bjurman’s responsibilities were examined. But she was only one person in a whole universe of present and former clients, she had met him only four times, and there would not be any indication that his death even had a connection with any of his clients. There were former girlfriends, relatives, casual acquaintances, colleagues, and others. There was also what was usually defined as “random violence,” when the perpetrator and victim did not know each other.
If her name came up, she would be a helpless, incompetent girl with documents showing her to be mentally deficient. So it would be an advantage if Bjurman’s death occurred in such a complicated manner that it would be highly unlikely that a mentally handicapped girl could be the perpetrator.
She rejected the option of using a gun. Acquiring a gun would be no great problem, but the police were awfully good at tracking down firearms.
She considered a knife, which could be purchased at any hardware store, but decided against that too. Even if she turned up without warning and drove the knife into his back, there was no guarantee that he would die instantly and without making a sound, or that he would die at all. Worse, it might provoke a struggle, which could attract attention, and blood could stain her clothes, be evidence against her.
She thought about using a bomb of some sort, but it would be much too complicated. Building the bomb itself would not be a problem—the Internet was full of manuals on how to make the deadliest devices. It would be difficult, on the other hand, to find a place to put the bomb so that innocent passersby would not be hurt. Besides, there was again no guarantee that he would actually die.
The telephone rang.
“Hi, Lisbeth. Dragan. I’ve got a job for you.”
“I don’t have time.”
“This is important.”
“I’m busy.”
She put down the receiver.
Finally she settled on poison. The choice surprised her, but on closer consideration it was perfect.
Salander spent several days combing the Internet. There were plenty to choose from. One of them was among the most deadly poisons known to science—hydrocyanic acid, commonly known as prussic acid.
Prussic acid was used as a component in certain chemical industries, including the manufacture of dyes. A few milligrams were enough to kill a person; one litre in a reservoir could wipe out a medium-sized city.
Obviously such a lethal substance was kept under strict control. But it could be produced in almost unlimited quantities in an ordinary kitchen. All that was needed was a modest amount of laboratory equipment, and that could be found in a chemistry set for children for a few hundred kronor, along with several ingredients that could be extracted from ordinary household products. The manual for the process was on the Internet.
Another option was nicotine. From a carton of cigarettes she could extract enough milligrams of the substance and heat it to make a viscous syrup. An even better substance, although slightly more complex to produce, was nicotine sulphate, which had the property that it could be absorbed through the skin. All she would have to do was put on rubber gloves, fill a water pistol, and spray Bjurman in the face. Within twenty seconds he should be unconscious, and within a few minutes he would be dead as a door-nail.
Salander had had no idea that so many household products could be transformed into deadly weapons. After studying the subject for several days, she was persuaded that there were no technical impediments to making short work of her guardian.
There were two problems: Bjurman’s death would not of itself give her back control of her own life, and there was no guarantee that Bjurman’s successor would be an improvement. Analysis of the consequences.
What she needed was a way to control her guardian and thus her own situation. She sat on the worn sofa in her living room for one whole evening running through the situation in her mind. By the end of the night, she had scrapped the idea of murder by poison and put together a new plan.
It was not an appealing option, and it required her to allow Bjurman to attack her again. But if she carried it off, she would have won.
At least, so she thought.
By the end of February Blomkvist fell into a daily routine that transformed his stay in Hedeby. He got up at 9:00 every morning, ate breakfast, and worked until noon. During this time he would cram new material into his head. Then he would take an hour-long walk, no matter what the weather was like. In the afternoon he would go on working, either at home or at Susanne’s Bridge Café, processing what he had read in the morning or writing sections of what would be Vanger’s auto-biography. Between 3:00 and 6:00 he w............
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