Authors: David Lagercrantz
The sky was heavy with a gathering storm when Inspector Artur Delov parked on the gravel road outside the charred remains of a house in Gorodishche, northwest of Volgograd. He simply could not understand why the fire had caused such a commotion.
No-one had been injured and it had not been much of a house. The whole neighbourhood was poor and run-down and nobody had even laid claim to the building. Yet there were VIPs out there, intelligence people, gangsters too, he thought, and also a number of small boys who should really be in school or at home with their mothers. He shooed them away and surveyed the ruins. About the only thing left was an old iron stove and a toppled chimney. Everything else had been destroyed and burned to the ground, there were not even any glowing embers. The entire plot was a black, desolate scene, and there was a gaping hole in the middle of it all, like a hatch leading down into the underworld. Some scorched, ghost-like trees were standing next to the site, their branches sticking out like charred fingers.
Gusts of wind whipped up ashes and soot from the ground and made it hard to breathe. There was a feeling of poison in the air, and Artur’s chest tightened. But he shook it off and turned to his colleague Anna Mazurova, who was standing there, looking down at the debris from the fire.
“What’s this all about?” he said.
Anna had flakes of soot in her hair. “We think it’s a statement.”
“What do you mean?”
“The house was bought a week ago through a law firm in Stockholm,” she said. “The family who lived here moved to new and better accommodation in Volgograd. And yesterday evening, when the last of the furniture had been carried out, explosions were heard from inside. The house burst into flames and burned to the ground.”
“And why are people concerned about that?” he said.
“Alexander Zalachenko, the man who created Zvezda Bratva—the ‘Star Mob’ syndicate—spent the first years of his life here. After his parents died, he was moved to a children’s home in Sverdlovsk in the Urals. That property burned down the day before yesterday, which seemed to worry some of the bigwigs, especially since it coincides with a number of other setbacks for the syndicate.”
“So it looks as if there’s someone who’s determined to put the very roots of evil to the torch,” he said, looking pensive.
There was a rumbling in the sky. A squall swept by, pulling with it ashes and soot from the ruins and carrying them past the trees and away from the neighbourhood. Soon the rain began to fall, a liberating shower which seemed to purify the air, and Artur Delov felt the pressure release across his chest.
Not long after that, Salander landed in Munich, and in the taxi going into town she looked at her mobile and saw a series of text messages from Blomkvist. She decided at last to answer.
The reply came back straightaway.
Then she smiled and, although she did not know it, Blomkvist also smiled, at home on Bellmansgatan. It felt like it was time for something new.
My heartfelt thanks go to my publisher, Eva Gedin, and my agents, Magdalena Hedlund and Jessica Bab Bonde.
A big thank-you to Peter Karlsson, publisher at Norstedts, and my editor, Ingemar Karlsson. Thanks to Erland and Joakim Larsson, father and brother to Stieg Larsson.
Thanks to journalist and author Karin Bojs, who tipped me off about the Sherpa gene, and Marie Allen, professor of forensic medicine, who helped me with my research into it.
Thanks too to David Jacoby, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab; Christopher MacLehose, my British publisher; George Goulding, my translator into English; Henrik Druid, professor of forensic medicine; Petra Råsten-Almqvist, head of the Stockholm department of the National Board of Forensic Medicine; Johan Norberg, guitarist and writer; Jakob Norstedt, DNA consultant; Peter Wittboldt, Inspector in the Swedish police; and Linda Altrov Berg, Catherine Mörk and Kajsa Loord at Norstedts—and also to my first and most important reader, my Anne.
David Lagercrantz is an acclaimed author and journalist. In 2015
The Girl in the Spider’s Web,
his continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, became a worldwide best seller and was made into a film by Sony Pictures in 2018. He is the author of the acclaimed and best-selling
I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovi
Fall of Man in Wilmslow
and the fifth in the Millennium series,
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye.
George Goulding was born in Stockholm, educated in England and spent his legal career working for a London-based law firm. He has translated all three of David Lagercrantz’s continuations of the Millennium Trilogy, as well as his novel
Fall of Man in Wilmslow.