"Yes, you made a critical mistake. You put information into the report that only existed on my computer. For someone who's supposed to be a genius, that sure was a stupid move."

"I agree."

Elzbeth grabbed a gun and shot Marty Stu five times in the chest. She dragged his dead body out of her apartment and dumped it--

Marty Stu jumped back. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's not supposed to happen. You're supposed to be surprised to see me, but also secretly intrigued and impressed by my detective skills. And attracted to me, of course."

She lowered her gun. "Well, what do expect? You knock on a strange woman's door and expose her biggest secret, a secret that could put her in prison for the rest of her life? That was kind of a stupid move, too."

"True." He set the sandwiches and coffee down on the table. "But you can't kill me, because I'm the hero, and we haven't even really started on the mystery. You're going to work for me, help me solve this hateful crime, and eventually become my lover."

She lit a cigarette. "Fine. Whatever. What now, Karl Freaking Bonkvist?"

"That's sweet. You have your own little book-based pet name for me. I think I'll call you Pippi Longstocking."


"You kind of remind me of Pippi Longstocking."

"I don't see how. I don't have red hair or ponytails or mismatched clothes. I'm not super-strong and picking up horses. I don't have tons of gold. My father wasn't a pirate. And I'm really anti-social whereas Pippi Longstocking was very outspoken and friendly."

"Still, you remind me of Pippi Longstocking. Because you're supposed to be like Pippi Longstocking."

Elzbeth rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

He sat down and explained the entire complicated and sordid mystery of Harried Avenger to her. It took so long, she had to take two showers.

When he finished, he pulled out a worn notebook and handed it to her. "The first order of business is to figure out the meaning behind this list. My daughter informs me these numbers are scriptures from the Bible. Not sure what the names mean, though."

Elzbeth wrapped a towel around her hair and stared at the list for a moment. "This is a list of women who've been murdered in ways that are similar to the methods described in the book of Leviticus."

He blinked. "How could you possibly know that?"

"I memorized the entire Internet."

"Good Lord, you have a photographic memory."

She burst into tears and ran out of the room.

He followed her into the bedroom, to find her shuddering with misery.

She sniffled. "I'm sorry. It's just that my photographic memory is a secret I've been trying to keep for my entire life. It's a wonderful and useful ability, but I hate it, because it makes me different. I guess. But you've figured out my two deepest secrets within hours of meeting me. I'm strangely closer to you than anyone else in the world. But you disgust me. You're so good and kind and patient and loving and intelligent and--"

Marty Stu held up his hands. "Wait, wait. When do you get to the part about why I disgust you?"

"That's what disgusts me about you."

"But all the stuff you said are good things."

"I know. I consider all your positive qualities to be negatives. You need to be more like me; miserable, distrustful, violent, and cruel."

"That makes no sense."

"I'm crazy. Isn't that obvious? Also, you're so perfect that no one can think of anything bad to say about you, except to make your positive qualities into negatives."

She went to her computer and typed furiously. "I was reading an article a few months ago about a woman who was killed back in 1949 in a particularly strange way, and now I remember it's related. The woman's name was Ruth Fargg, and the name Ruth is on Harried's list. Also, the numbers next to her name on Harried's list are 2818."

He shook his head. "I don't get it."

She looked up at him. "She was turned into a sandwich."

"A sandwich?"

"Yes. The police found the woman's body between two huge slices of whole wheat bread with cream cheese and cucumber tucked all around her."

He stroked his handsome chin. "Why would anyone do that?"

She went to the Bible on her shelf and flipped pages. "The numbers correspond to the chapter and verse of scriptures in the book of Leviticus. For example, Leviticus 28:18 reads, 'And you shall place two slices of bread made from the grain of whole wheat side-by-side, and lay a knife laden with cream cheese upon them. And you must take no more than three slices of cucumber and lay them upon the cream cheese in rows of three.'"

"Diabolical," he murmured. "But who is Ruth?"

She returned to her computer. "According to this, she was a secretary for the Avenger Corporation."

"So she had a connection to the family, and was noted by Harried. That can't be a coincidence."

Elzbeth flipped through more pages in the Bible. "And here's another one. Leviticus 32:4 reads, 'You must bring to my altar elongated loaves of bread with pumpernickel seeds, and upon that bread you must place meat from the breast of the finest turtledoves. With the turtledoves, you must place tomatoes, thinly sliced.'"

He went to Harried's list and found the numbers 324. Next to them was the name Sarah. "I wonder if we can find anything on her."

"I cross-referenced the words 'sandwiches' and 'Sarah,' and found this article on a woman killed in 1952. Her name was Sarah Kendakerba. She worked in the town of Narrdomlig, and was found in a giant baguette with tomatoes and chicken breast fillets."

He shuddered. "Horrible. What a waste of a good sandwich. Did the killer eat the women?"

She made a face. "No. Don't be gross."

"Well, it seems a serial killer has been turning women into sandwiches for decades. Perhaps that's why Harried was killed, because she found out about it. We need to find the real killer. I want to hire you, Elzbeth."

She nodded. "I'll do it. But not for the money, but for the chance to bring a hater of women to justice. For I am a defender of all women."

"Considering you hate people, why would you be so dedicated to helping women?"

"I don't hate people. I just hate men. I feel contempt for women."

"Oh, big difference. Anyway, let's celebrate with some sandwiches, and you can come back with me to Headcasetad."

They sat down at the table.

He paused as he looked down at the sandwiches. "Does the thought of people being turned into sandwiches kill your appetite for sandwiches?"

She shook her head. "Not at all."

"Me, either."

They picked up their sandwiches and ate.

The Girl Who Played With the Dragon Tattoo's NestRead this story for FREE!