Dear Lisbeth Salander: Need to Find a Long-Lost Relative

This week's guest columnist is Lisbeth Salander, who's a hacker but not a hack, Wasp but not a WASP, and an all-around tough-as-nails badass.

Dear Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

Recently, I found out that someone whom I had believed to have died, my uncle, is more than likely still alive. The story I had always heard was that he left home at sixteen, joined the Navy, and was never heard from again.

That story is a lie.

I have very good reason to believe that he is still alive and that he left home because he thought he had killed someone. He was always in trouble with the cops. One night, he held up a liquor store and shot the night clerk. He ran scared because he thought he thought the clerk had been killed. However, the man survived and is still living in this area.

That was over 20 years ago. He is my uncle and I would like to contact him. How do I go about finding a good PI to help me with this venture? I have no idea of costs or even who I would contact. Should I try to find him on my own?

Lost Boy

Dear Lost Boy,

Lost relatives get lost for a reason; they don’t want to be found. In your uncle’s case, it seems as if he simply was scared of going to jail, and at the age of sixteen, who can blame him? I certainly don’t. On the other hand, it seems that if he hasn’t tried to ever contact family members, he’s either still on the lam or is wanted for other crimes. Twenty years is a long time, and once a criminal always a criminal.

Since it has been 20 years since anyone has seen or heard from him, it seems as if he has created some type of new life for himself. I understand this completely, having created new identities for myself several times. I say let it be, but I know that’s not what you want to hear.

Private investigators cost money. They charge for daily expenses plus a flat fee upfront. There’s no guarantee that this uncle will be found and the search can go on for months. Still want to hire one?

Now if you should want to find him yourself, you have a problem. How good are you at ass-kicking your way through the years that your uncle has been missing? Because, you know if he ran, he’s not hanging with the nice folk in suburbia; he’s more than likely with fellow criminals. Not everyone who is missing is a good guy, and you have already mentioned that he was always in trouble with the cops.

Don’t think for one second that a leopard changes his spots. You might want to check the prison system and see if he is incarcerated. If he is, that makes finding him a whole easier and you can do a family reunion thing on opposite sides of a glass partition using phones to talk to each other. Great way to not get to know someone.

If you insist on finding this guy, maybe you should hire me. I’m available. Here’s my quick résumé. When I’m not hacking computers, I box for exercise, steal money from corrupt politicians and corporate slime-bags, and exact good, solid revenge on those who definitely deserve it. I always come up fighting. My motto is if someone threatens me with a gun, I’ll just get a bigger gun. Deal done. I’m easy to hire, but I’m not cheap. Five thou down and five thou when I find your uncle. Interested? I’ll be in touch.

Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


Kristen Houghton is the author of nine top-selling novels, including the best-selling new series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation. She is hard at work on book 3 in the series. This summer, she will begin writing a series that features a paranormal investigator with distinct powers of her own.

She is also the author of two non-fiction books. Her short horror stories appear in The Horror Zine anthologies. She is also the author of two non-fiction books. Her short stories appear in many anthologies. Kristen is a former linguistics teacher.

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