Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blind Goddess: Anne Holt

From the description at the publisher's website:
While walking her dog, civil litigator Karen Borg stumbles upon the decaying body of a low-level drug dealer. Days later, notorious Oslo lawyer Hans E. Olson is shot at gunpoint in his home. Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen and Police Attorney Håkon Sand begin investigating the two murders in tandem and quickly discover a web of corruption, lies, and secrets that extend to the top levels of professional Oslo society and the Norwegian government—a discovery that may as well cost them their lives.
This story is much more complex than the description above indicates. Yet the story does not get so involved or include so many characters that the reader is confused. There is a good core of characters: the policeman and the attorney who form a partnership on this case, plus the civil litigator who is pulled into the case by her chance discovery. There is a good amount of information shared about their lives and relationships, but not to the detriment of the plot. Hanne is a lesbian in a relationship, and she keeps her off-work life strictly separate from her work life.

I liked the structure of the police detective working directly with the attorney to come up with a case. I used to see some of this type of thing in the Law and Order TV series, but more commonly in police procedural fiction the emphasis is on the detectives and possibly on the forensics and medical examiners. Although the reader is aware of a conspiracy at a high level, the author does a good job of hiding who is involved, and keeping the plot realistic.

This book was written in the early 1990s and I consider that a plus. No computers, and the investigation team rely on typewriters and other equipment not even used nowadays.

A minor complaint was that the plot dragged in the middle section. That could have been related to the translation and it could have been because it was Holt's first novel. It was a little longer than I would have preferred.

I have read one other book by Holt, the first book in the Vik and Stubo series: What is Mine? I found that book more to my taste. That book was published in 2001, and Blind Goddess was published in 1993.  But this was still a fine novel, featuring Hanne Wilhelmson early in her career, successful but still learning.

I will continue this series; I am interested in the character development of Hanne. The eighth book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, 1222, was the first novel by Holt published in English. I get the impression from comments at other blogs that she is a significantly different person by that point in the series, retired and cantankerous. I want to see the route she takes to become that person.

Other reviews at Eurocrime, A Crime is Afoot, Crimepieces, Ms. Wordopolis and Clothes in Books.

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Publisher:   Scribner, 2012 (first publ. 1993)
Length:      354 pages
Format:      e-book
Series:       Hanne Wilhelmsen, #1
Setting:      Oslo, Norway
Genre:        Police Procedural
Translated: From the Norwegian by Tom Geddes
Source:      I purchased this book.

23 comments:

  1. Trying to keep up with your reviews....make a point to check in while eating my lunch! Question: Did you notice in the book 'gesures' of Hanne Wilhelmson that would reveal much more that she is saying? I'm always curious how a writer gives a a glimpe into the 'interior' of the character.

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    1. That is a good question, Nancy. That is the problem with reviewing so long after reading the book, I forget the details. But, since the it was an e-book, it was easy to take a peek at some of the pages, and I do notice that the author comments on a lots of Hanne's gestures, especially hand gestures. She is very focused in her job, pushing herself and everyone around her, a very interesting character.

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    2. Thanks for the feedback, Tracy. I noticed in a book I just read...smoking a cigarette was a flirtatious act with one character and a nervous gesture of guilt with another character! It really is fascinating!

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    3. It is fascinating, Nancy, and I need to pay more attention to the details. I am good at that at work but I tend to read fiction too fast.

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  2. I agree, Tracy, that Hanne Wilhelmson is an interesting character with some real depth. I actually like the fact that she's rather complicated; yet, I don't think Holt makes her so enigmatic that we can't get to know her. Glad you found a lot to like about this book.

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    1. I know I will enjoy more of the series, Margot, just have to find time.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it Tracy but I doubt it's a series I'll be interested in reading. I think I have 1222 somewhere, but just one will do for me, if I ever get around to reading it!

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    1. May be too tame for you, Col. Maybe someday we will see what you think of 1222.

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  4. I have only read 1222 and am certainly curious about the earlier volumes (I was a bit underwhelmed by the one I read I should add, though probably because I wasn't expecting an Agatha Christie pastiche/homage) - thanks Tracy.

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    1. I do like the other series written by this author better, Sergio, but I have only read one of each.

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  5. Tracy, I'm with Col on this series though I might check it out in future.

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    1. I am sure you would find things to like in this series, Prashant, but there are lots of good books out there.

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  6. Thanks for the shoutout - I did like both this one and 1222 (like so many of us that was my first encounter with this author) but haven't been pursuing the series, so far. Maybe in the future...

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    1. I hope I keep up with Anne Holt's books. I prefer the other series and have #2 in that one. I have #2 and #3 and 1222 in this series. But I have lots of other books waiting too.

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  7. Hmmmmmm. Some years ago a very distant relative of mine with some role in Norway's govt. got into a mess that, as I recall, led to the killing of a family member. Been awhile since I Googled it to see if or how it worked out. Google "Paust" and "Norway" if you like, Tracy, and maybe you'll find a nonfiction mystery. Meanwhile, I should check out Ann Holt. Thanks for the inadvertent reminder!

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    1. Matt, It does seem like many Scandinavian countries have government corruption problems, but then...what country does not? Very interesting that you have ties to Norway and its officials, even if distant. This book is from the 1990's, don't know what the situation is now.

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    2. I just now Googled my last name and "Norway" and lo, here it is. Last time I'd checked was a good 10 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orderud_case Thanks again for reminding me!

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    3. Whoa, that is one scary case, Matt. Makes me glad I lead such a quiet life.

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    4. Me, too, Tracy. (I hope it's not in the DNA!)

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  8. These books are good ones. Just give Hanne a chance. She changes over time, mostly due to her disability, which is shown in 1222.

    I have liked the three books I've read in the series.

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    1. Thanks for the comments, Kathy. I will definitely read at least three more of the Hanne Wilhelmsen books and maybe more.

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  9. I was slightly disappointed with this one, but the second of the series, Blessed are they that Thirst, was so much better, very good in fact, that I'm looking forward to reading the third one that's near the top of my To Read list.

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    1. I am glad you liked the 2nd one. I hope to read it before the end of the year, but I always aim too high.

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