Archive for October 2, 2013

I read this third novel in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series back in July, but didn’t at the time do a full review. I realise now that the notes I took were too brief, but I do 51gMjXibQ6L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_want to say something about it for two reasons. Firstly I think it could be a contender for both the Petrona Award and the CWA International Dagger, and secondly because it is only 262 pages long. In an age when most crime fiction books require heavy lifting equipment it is a rarity when the reader is presented with less than 300 pages, and when those pages have so much content and little padding. Agnes Vestavik, director of the Spring Sunshine Foster Home, an institution for troubled children and young people, is found murdered at her office desk. Olav, the very troublesome new 12 year old resident has gone missing, and the recently promoted Chief Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is put in charge of the case.

“Probably it’ll turn out that they all originate from the children and adults at the home. In other words-“

Hanne interrupted him again. “In other words we’re facing the most enjoyable and classical of all police work!” She leaned forward smiling .

Billy T did likewise, and with their faces only twenty centimetres apart, they chorused, “Tactical investigation!”

The narrative is told from several perspectives, with Olav’s traumatised mother telling her tale of bringing up a child with deviant behaviour, the story of the murder investigation uncovering the secrets and back stories of the staff, their contacts and lovers, and Olav’s journey through a frozen city seeking his mother. This is one of those books that pays tribute to Agatha Christie’s formula of a limited number of suspects, all of whom have a motive and each of whom  at various stages of the book the reader is quite convinced committed the crime.

We are also given a deeper insight than in the first two books in the series into Hanne’s relationship with Cecille, her relationship with Billy T, and her efforts to adapt to her new professional responsibilities. The book was written in 1995 so perhaps some of the commentary on the Norwegian social system is out of date, but I highly recommend this novel and the series.

“I’ve discovered who we’re looking for,” Hanne said.

“So have I,” said Billy T. They stopped.

“Why do I have a feeling we haven’t arrived at the same person?” Hanne said softly.

“Because we probably haven’t,” Billy T said just as quietly.  

My reviews of the first two Hanne Wilhelmsen books:

The Blind Goddess

Blessed Are Those That Thirst