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