Salander, having stolen millions from the corrupt business tycoon Wennerstrom, has decided to take some time out for a trip around the world. We find her chilling out in the Caribbean. Even here Salander manages to have one of her adventures involving meting out brutal punishment to a wife beating husband.
Meanwhile back in Stockholm Advokat Nils Erik Bjurman, Salanders state appointed guardian, is ploting his revenge. He raped her and abused her in the most horrific fashion. Salander eventually got the upper hand and has him eating out of it. Bjurman hated her for this. Her ascendency to power in the relationship mirrored his life’s steady declined into ruins. But he was determined to settle the score and meditated ferociously on her downfall.
Salander returns from her travels to the flashy new apartment she had bought before leaving. It was carefully purchased in a way that had no possible connection to who the real owner was. Her only friend in Stockholm was Mimi, an old sometimes lover. Mimi is a source of pleasure in a life that takes on a brief semblance of stability. This all changes with the simultaneous appearance on the scene of Blomkvist, Zala, a hairy biker and a huge, blond, giant of a man she spies in conversation with Bjurman.
The name Zala appeared in a file on Blomkvists computer. This drives Salander to confront Millenniums’ new employee to get some answers. On the night of her visit the same journalist and his wife are murdered. Blomkvist arrives on the crime scene and discovers the bodies. With Salander linked to the crime scene the hunt for her whereabouts begins. But Salander has a luxurious safe house, a weeks supply of frozen pizza, and a broadband connection. Unbeknown to her she also has friends who believe in her innocence, even though their confidence is a little shaken by the discovery of a third murder – Bjurman.
Salander pursues Zala as if her life depended on it. Blomkvist edges closer to finding out what really happened on the night of the murders. The police are incompetent and always a few steps behind Salander; who maintains an edge thanks to her outrageous hacking skills. From left of field a boxing champ appears, also fighting in Salanders corner - eventually literally so.
Salander slips away from Stockholm in pursuit of Zala, her father, whom as a child she had tried to kill with a Molotov cocktail (he beat her mother to a pulp.) Zala was an informant, a former high ranking Russian spy. The authorities, including Bjurman, had given him asylum and made sure his many misdemeanours were neatly covered up. Salanders loathing for authority becomes understandable.
A feverish climax is reached in a western like showdown. Salander confronts her dad intent on murder. She gets a bullet in the head and is buried still alive in a shallow grave, but she rises from the dead to attack again. Finally collapsing, near to death, she is saved by the cavalry in the form of the dogged Blomkvist. With superb brain work and more than a little brawn he got there just in the nick of time.