Salander is plotting her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign.
After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close supervision in Intensive Care, and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release.
With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Stieg Larsson died on the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 2004, at age fifty. He had done everything that any one man could possibly do to expose, document, and turn back the resurgence of neofascism in his native Sweden. He worked day and night, sometimes in fear for his life, with the small group of political activists who founded a magazine called Expo.
The work and the magazine go on. At his memorial service, many friends were astonished to learn about the scale of his achievements, the range of his friendships and of his journeys, and the sheer force that had been exerted by this modest, quiet man in the fields of political and humanitarian endeavour across Europe. His magazine, which received many mocking and abusive messages after his death, did not make a special issue to celebrate his life and work. Its continuing life was and is his deafening and sufficient legacy. A sophisticated political strategist had died, but a younger and equally committed team to whom he had been a mentor took his place in the front line.
Larsson culled his allies from many walks of life. He sought out and made a friend of Mona Sahlin, now the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, at a time when she was being savaged in the media. He called her out of the blue to offer advice, and he became for her what she calls “a living schoolbook … my university.” Her concerns - housing, immigrants, xenophobia, class, honour killings, gender - were concerns of his.
He also found his way to Kurdo Baksi, the Kurdish radical leader in Stockholm, when Baksi organised a one-hour strike of all immigrant workers in the city. “The Queen and the King were not happy about my plan for a one-day strike,” Baksi said. “So I compromised!” Larsson and Baksi worked together for ten years, for a time publishing their separate magazines under one banner.
Almost all the notable storytellers of Sweden come from the north of the country: Mikael Niemi, P. O. Enquist, Henning Mankell, Torgny Lindgren among them. Stieg Larsson was born four hundred miles north of Stockholm and grew up there in Umeå. Telling stories remains a habit in these sparse communities.
Even as a boy Stieg Larsson was a tireless writer - a very early illustrated text on constellations he had been observing is signed “Dante Larsson.” The drumming of his typewriter was such that he had to be moved into a basement room in the apartment building his family lived in, and when that did not quell the irritation of the neighbours he had to move to a room in another building altogether.
He finished school and did his national service. He put his combat training in the army to use in the course of journeys in Africa, during which he saw civil war in Eritrea, where he is said to have taught women soldiers how to use hand grenades. Somewhere in Africa he caught malaria, so when he returned to a job in the post office it gave him the possibility, when he needed it, to plead exhaustion and to stay at home reading. He edited a Trotskyite magazine; he took a fervent interest in the war in Vietnam; he wrote, designed, and mimeographed thirty science fiction fanzines in his twenties; he was an artist and a photographer besides being employed for twenty years as a graphic designer at the TT news agency in Stockholm. He befriended Maurice Bishop, the exiled premier of Grenada; he was for thirty years the Scandinavian correspondent of the British antifascist magazine Searchlight; he lectured at Scotland Yard on the cross-European neofascist networks and the way they use the Internet.
But Stieg Larsson will be remembered most of all as a man of exceptional moral conviction. He spent his life fighting racial and religious intolerance. He was alert, as perhaps no one in this field has been before, to the pan-European dimension of the problem. He learned the whole extent of the Austrian, German, Dutch, Russian, French, and British right wings and the ways in which they worked and communicated. He was the author of books on honour killings; on the extreme right in Sweden, with Anna-Lena Lodenius; on the so-called Swedish Democratic Party (which is nothing of the sort and not to be mistaken for the social democrats), with Mikael Ekman.
In the years after World War II it was clear that the Swedish police were more effective in following the traces of the extremists on the left than they were in watching the emergence of the far right. The extreme right, by now disguised in suits and ties, began to blossom in the eighties, and in the nineties to become extremely dangerous. In the late nineties, four immigrants were murdered, two policemen were killed during a bank robbery, a car bombing all but claimed the lives of a journalist and his young son, and a trade union leader was shot dead after exposing a neo-Nazi colleague.
For as long as they were working closely together, sometimes writing articles under each other's bylines, Larsson and Baksi were under no illusions about the risks they ran. Baksi says, “One time they shot into my home.” Both were threatened, and for a long while Larsson had to take precautions going to and from his office, alter all his routines, and also take precautions for Eva Gabrielsson, his lifelong partner. Their photographs and address were posted on the Internet. An anarchist who was similarly targeted by the extreme right was murdered under the noses of a police surveillance team.
Friends of Larsson say that he was always unafraid, but the strain of those years, especially in the late nineties, must have been severe. In one of the worst times, terror tactics were used against Expo's printers, windows were smashed, and its employees threatened. Prompted by Baksi, all four of Sweden's main daily newspapers joined forces with Expo and Baksi's Svartwitt (Black/White) magazine and printed their articles - naming and publishing photographs of sixty-one men and one woman alleged to be associated with extreme right-wing organisations.
Larsson worked on and on, at the news agency by day, at Expo by night, until there came a time when he was free to take voluntary redundancy from TT. He put all that he could of his payment into Expo and worked harder there than ever. By night he began writing the crime novels that would be one part of his bequest to Sweden and the literary world. By this time Larsson had read so voraciously, especially among the English-language crime writers, and had so often reviewed their work for the agency, that his mastery of the form came as no surprise to those friends who were sent the texts of all three novels, sometimes chapter by chapter.
John-Henri Holmberg, a publisher, says that in all the time he knew Larsson he never forgot a single detail of a conversation, and that this gift, along with his persistence, was the cornerstone of his brilliant work at Expo: the patient building of cases and the ability to outwit the enemy and defeat all comers with facts and reason. He never lost his temper in debate and in interviews was invariably calm, smiling and with a twinkle in his eye. Only while making speeches in schools or at trade union meetings did the passionate, charismatic, and absolutely authoritative Larsson emerge. He and his colleagues answered myriad calls for advice and help in schools plagued by young Nazis. He and Jonas Sundberg, a longtime associate, developed programmes that were planted in schools - with a high degree of success - to help and encourage victims of harassment.
In ten years, the Expo team built a library that is the product of meticulous research - of files, books and journals and DVDs, White Power music, and recordings of speeches and photographs, all documenting the activities of the extreme right in Sweden, both of individuals and companies. The library has been available to any organisation that has needed it to further the aims they share with Expo. Larsson himself spent days and nights exploring the Internet, burrowing in blogs and chatrooms and homepages, and also answering all the letters and responding to all the questions he could find. He worked four or five hours at a stretch, often with his feet on the desk, a cup of coffee at hand, one of his everyday ration of sixty or so cigarettes beside him.
On November 9, 2004, Larsson was supposed to hold a public meeting with Kurdo Baksi to mark, as they did every year, Kristallnacht. On the day before, unusually, he rang Baksi to say that he could tell from Nazi Web sites that there would be a substantial turnout and wondered if it would be wise to warn the police. Baksi did not think so. The next morning, Baksi rang to check what time they were meeting and was told that Larsson had suddenly been taken ill and had gone to a hospital. Baksi went to the meeting alone - “There were sixty Nazis and forty normals, not a problem” - and then went to the hospital. Larsson was not alive anymore. “Smiling in his jacket and tie. Handsome, but no cigarette,” Baksi said. “He was the brain of these questions in Sweden … He made a good plan for himself, except to die.”