Summary and Analysis
Part 3: Mergers: Chapter 16
As June begins, new clues emerge in Harriet's case. First, Blomkvist realizes what he first noticed in the photograph album: The picture of Harriet at the Children's Day Parade in Hedestad the day she disappeared shows her looking away from the parade with dismay and possibly, fear on her face. Blomkvist shares his revelation with Vanger, and through him, is able to get access to the Hedestad Courier's photograph archive.
Blomkvist spends an entire weekend looking through negatives until he finds another clue. He locates a photograph taken from the bridge where the car accident occurred on the day of Harriet's disappearance. The photographer captured someone opening the window to Harriet's room in the background of the picture. Using his computer's photograph technology, Blomkvist is able to zoom in on the figure. The person appears to be Cecilia Vanger.
His discovery wracks him with questions. If Cecilia lied about her whereabouts on the day of Harriet's disappearance, what else would she lie about? What role did Cecilia play in Harriet's fate? Amid these questions, Blomkvist also realizes that Harriet's disappearance was influenced by whatever she saw at the Parade that day. Working late into the night, Blomkvist discovers his second clue. By looking at all the photos featuring Harriet that day, he sees in the background a young woman taking a snapshot aimed in the general direction of Harriet's horrified gaze. By manipulating pictures of the woman with the camera, Blomkvist is able to see the car she is using, including part of the license plate and the sticker on the back. The investigative journalist knows that if he can find the photo the woman took, he could see what Harriet saw that day.
In this chapter, the author makes ironic use of the Children's Day parade. Stieg Larsson also reveals Blomkvist's investigative talents, which compare in many ways to Salander's. First, the fact that Harriet, little more than a child herself, disappears on a day devoted to celebrating the rights and lives of children is a sad irony. This irony is highlighted by the photographs Blomkvist analyzes, particularly the ones of Harriet and her friends. While her friends are enjoying the parade, Harriet looks elsewhere and what she sees fills her with anything but joy.
Secondly, Blomkvist is shown using many techniques that are similar to those used by Salander. Both of them are adept at employing technology to further their investigations. Both Salander and Blomkvist also are good at using people in order to get what they want out of them. For instance, Blomkvist is skilled at setting the photo editor of the Hedestad Courier at ease, so much so that she allows him to sit in the offices for hours on end two days in a row. Similarly, Salander was able to interview Bjurman's former trustees by putting on the persona of a social worker. These likenesses between them further highlight how they're both driven to expose hidden truths, albeit sometimes for different reasons.