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Alexander Zalachenko is Lisbeth Salander's father and a criminal mastermind. He's an ex-Russian spy who defected to Sweden in the 1970s. In Sweden, he fathered Salander and her twin sister Camilla. He never married Salander's mother, Agneta, but he returned periodically to have sex with her and beat her.

Early life

Born in Stalingrad in 1940, Zalachenko was orphaned when he was a year old when his parents died in the Second World War. He grew up in the Russian military. When he defected to Sweden he changed his name to Karl Axel Bodin. It is said that he adopted Sweden as his home because there were few Jews there.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Back Story

At age twelve, Lisbeth Salander, set Zalanchenko, her father, on fire to stop his brutal beatings of her mother. We find out in The Girl Who Played With Fire that because of the damage to his body he had to have his leg amputated. This act is used as evidence to support claims that Salander is mentally ill, and remains a topic of debate for readers and characters.

Present Day

Mikael Blomkvist is on the trail of a new story about the Swedish Sex Trade. Lisbeth, who has been monitoring his computer, becomes obsessed when she reads of the brutal crimes and begins her own hunt for the culprits. The trail leads to Zala, a mysterious underground crime boss who has a penchant for torturing women.

Meanwhile, Salander's sadistic guardian, Nils Bjurman, hires Zalachenko to kill Lisbeth. Bjurman himself is soon killed by Neidermann, who with Zala, is lying in wait at a farm in Gosseberga to ambush Salander. During a brief confrontation, Zalachenko shoots Lisbeth in the head and buries her alive. She later climbs out and deals serious blows to Zalachenko's head and leg with an axe. Their injuries are so serious they are taken by air ambulance to a hospital.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

While Zalachenko is recuperating, a member of the Section breaks into his hospital room and shoots him in the head to prevent him from testifying against the organization.