Summary and Analysis
Part 4: Hostile Takeover: Epilogue — Final Audit
Blomkvist's story hits the media with all the fanfare he could have hoped for. As Wennerstrom's company strives to maintain its reputation, the Swedish stock market tumbles when speculators across the country become nervous. During the media frenzy, Wennerstrom flees the country and is found several days later in Spain, dead from three gunshots to the head. No one is able to tie Wennerstrom's death to a phone call Salander made to Florida, tipping off one of the many people Wennerstrom owed money to — funds that successfully vanished with Salander's help. In the media frenzy, one of Salander's personas is caught on a security camera in Zurich and thought to be a Wennerstrom associate, tucking away money for him. Blomkvist sees this video and, realizing Salander is the mysterious Wennerstrom "associate," is overcome with laughter.
After Christmas, Salander and Blomkvist spend a week in Sandhamm together. Salander realizes, with great approbation, that she is in love with Blomkvist. She says nothing, and after their week at the cabin, Blomkvist goes to Hedestad while Salander goes home to Stockholm. In Hedestad, Blomkvist receives payment for his year of work and learns that Harriet and Cecilia Vanger are the new CEOs of the Vanger Corporation. Back in Stockholm, Salander resolves to tell Blomkvist how she feels. After Blomkvist returns to Stockholm, Salander walks to his apartment one evening, only to see him cozying up to Berger. Furious, she storms away before the couple sees her and says nothing about her feelings.
The epilogue provides resolution to most of the plot questions raised in the novel, leaving only one major quandary for the reader to mull over. In the epilogue, both of the major plotlines are resolved. The Vanger mystery is solved, and the Vanger Corporation is stabilized. Secondly, Blomkvist, in solving the Vanger case, also is able to expose Wennerstrom for the crook he really is. However, Salander stands in contrast to Blomkvist's successes and sense of closure at the novel's end. Salander's narrow, closed-off world has opened, and she has been slow to realize the implications of letting someone into her life. As she realizes she is in love for the first time, she becomes vulnerable and is unable to handle seeing Blomkvist with his arm around Berger. For Salander, nothing has been resolved; her life has become more complicated through her involvement with Blomkvist and his aspirations. Thus the epilogue, while providing some closure, foreshadows events in the second novel of the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, as it points toward the idea that Salander's mysterious nature and past will be more fully revealed.