What is Mine, by Anne Holt
(Original title: Det som er mitt. Published in England as Punishment .)
Bibliography, Anne Holt
The Hanne Wilhelmsen series
- 1993 Blind gudinne
- 1994 Salige er de som tørster
- 1995 Demonens død
- 1997 Løvens gap
- 1999 Død joker
- 2000 Uten ekko
- 2003 Sannheten bortenfor
- 2007 1222 UK: 1222 (2010)
The Vik/Stubø series
- 2001 Det som er mitt (What is Mine)
- 2004 Det som aldri skjer (What never happens)
- 2006 Presidentens valg (Madam President/Death in Oslo)
- 2009 Pengemannen (Fear Not)
- 1997 Mea culpa
- 1998 I hjertet av VM. En fotballreise
- 1999 Bernhard Pinkertons store oppdrag
- 2010 Flimmer (with Even Holt)
Emilie, nine years old, disappears on the way home from her school. After a search, her father finds her backpack in a deserted alley. Six days later, a little boy disappears, the five year old Kim. Then, while more children disappear, the bodies of the missing children start appearing in their family's homes with notes that say “You got what you deserved.” Only nine-year-old Emilie remains at large. There is no word of her at all, nor a returned dead body.
What is Mine is the first book in Anne Holt’s series featuring a former FBI profiler - now working as an academic psychologist - Johanne Vik, and Detective Inspector Adam Stubo of the Oslo police.
A serial child murderer is on the loose and Adam Stubo is in charge of the case. He has personal reasons for wanting to solve the case of the missing children: not long ago he lost his wife and only daughter in a terrible accident, and now all he has left is his young grandson.
Viewing a television panel discussion of the child kidnappings, Stubo’s attention is caught by Johanne Vik. Vik's thinking differs considerably from that of the other participants, and in the middle of the discussion she walks off the set, outraged by the assumptions made by the other panelists. Adam Stubo is impressed, and decides she is the perfect foil to counterbalance the police procedures. Thus he turns to Johanne Vik for a profile of the killer. Together they race against the clock to find the kidnapper before another child turns up dead.
And while the Norwegian media drum up a nation-wide witch hunt for pedophiles, Stubo and Johanna gradually uncover a quite different story – one where revenge rather than lust is the basic ingredient.
What is Mine is a nicely paced crime fiction with a solid and twisting plot and interesting, well developed and well-rounded characters living complicated and demanding lives. It is very suspenseful. Adam has scars in his soul from his losses, and Johanne attempts to parent a mentally handicapped child while building a career. Vik and Stubo are a very interesting pair, coming at the problems from different angles but managing to benefit from the differences. What is Mine is a tad slow in the beginning, but quickly picks up pace. It is a very clever crime story and an interesting tale of crime and punishment.
Praise for Anne Holt:
“Anne Holt is the latest crime writer to reveal how truly dark it gets in Scandinavia” -- Val McDermid
1222, by Anne Holt
Norwegian crime fiction writer Anne Holt has written two series of crime fiction books, one featuring Hanne Wilhelmsen, and one with psychologist and profiler Johanne Vik and her husband, Detective Inspector Adam Stubo of the Oslo police, as the main protagonists. I have always liked the Hanne Wilhelmsen series much better than the Vik/Stubo series.
1222 is the latest in the series about Hanne Wilhelmsen. Hanne is now confined to a wheel chair after being shot and paralyzed, and is even less interested in normal social interaction than before, but still sharp as a razor. She has quit her job in the Oslo police, even though she was offered a position that would accommodate her severe handicap. And now, en route to Bergen by train, she gets involved in a murder case literally by accident.
A passenger train with Hanne on board crashes high up in the wintery Norwegian mountains during a terrible snow storm. It has 269 people on board. Only one is killed. The rest are successfully evacuated to a nearby hotel, Finse 1222. That is – 1222 meters above sea level – thus the title 1222. As the storm continues, the stranded passengers become totally isolated in the hotel.
"1222 meters above sea level, train 601 from Oslo to Bergen careens off iced rails as the worst snowstorm in Norwegian history gathers force around it. Marooned in the high mountains with night falling and the temperature plummeting, its 269 passengers are forced to abandon their snowbound train and decamp to a centuries-old mountain hotel. They ought to be safe from the storm here, but as dawn breaks one of them will be found dead, murdered."
This icy, cold setting with a raging storm is cleverly used by Anne Holt to create a kind of “closed room” murder mystery. And when people start dying – as they do – all the people in the hotel, including the staff, know that the murderer is among them. And in this special and intense situation, Hanne Wilhelmsen, who really does not want to be involved in anything outside the quiet little world she has created for herself and would prefer to wait and leave the case to the police when the storm clears, increasingly feels that she has to do something.
She starts to classify the people there, to group them, and so obtain information about their movements and who they associate with. And, of course, to theorize over the possibilities – motives, opportunities, and so on. But being more or less on her own, with only a few other people to help her, and without access to modern police tools and forensic expertise, she finds it very difficult to unravel the mystery. And while she thinks, more people die.
Having read all the previous Hanne Wilhelmsen novels, I enjoyed the book a lot. I think the book probably will be a little less interesting to readers who encounter Hanne for the first time in this book. As usual, the unfortunate practice of many English language publishers – to publish foreign book series completely out of order – annoys me a lot. This is actually the eighth Hanne Wilhelmsen novel, and the first to be translated into English.
However, 1222 is well written, Hanne Wilhelmsen is a very interesting and intriguing character, the plot is interesting – a kind of Agatha Christie with a twist – and I feel that the book is well worth a read even by those who are new to Anne Holt and her Hanne Wilhelmsen. It is entertaining and smart – you should give this icy version of a locked-room murder mystery a try!
Death in Oslo, by Anne Holt
Death in Oslo is a special and very interesting crime fiction novel by Norwegian writer Anne Holt. It is a book where the author lets the first female US president, Helen Lardahl Bentley – a woman with Norwegian ancestors – be kidnapped by terrorists in Oslo.
Washington D. C., January 2005, Helen Lardahl Bentley takes the oath of office as the first female president of the United States. As the crowd cheers, President Bentley is thinking, "I got away with it ... "
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, businessman Abdallah al-Rahman is watching the inaugural event on television from his soundproof exercise room. To no one he says, "She actually thinks she got away with it!"
And in Oslo, Norway, watching the televised event, Hanne Wilhemsen speculates about the new president's spotless past to her friend, former FBI profiler Johanne Vik, and muses, "But there's always something . . . some little secret . . . ."
This is how Death in Oslo begins. Helen Lardahl Bentley beat George W. Bush. And she wants Norway to be the first country visits as President. Moreover, she wants to be there on the 17th of May – on the day when Norway celebrates its independence and first constitution. Both she and her advisors consider Norway to be one of the safest countries for her to visit.
But soon after she arrives, she disappears – is kidnapped – in the early hours of the morning of May 17th. This has never happened before – no American President has ever been kidnapped.
Death in Oslo is interesting for another reason as well. Followers of Anne Holt will know that she has written two series of crime fiction books. One of the series features the Norwegian police detective Hanne Wilhelmsen (this is the series I favor), and the other featuring the couple Johanne Vik (a profiler trained by the FBI) and her husband Adam Stubo, a detective in the Oslo police. However, in this book Anne Holt puts all her heroes in play! So, in a sense, this is a book where the two separate series intersect.
The disappearance of the President forces the Norwegian police, Secret Service and FBI to work together – not, of course, without friction and differences of opinion. Can the US President really just disappear into thin air? And it soon becomes clear that the Secret Service this time has overlooked several important factors while preparing the President’s stay. And far away, in a Middle Eastern country, a man knowing about a dark secret President Bentley has been protecting for decades, has been able to successfully exploit a weakness and carry out an unprecedented act of terrorism.
Working on several fronts and with huge resources, the progress in the investigation is very fast. Multiple leads are pursued. However, the leads go nowhere. The huge forces trying to locate her are left in total ignorance of the President’s whereabouts, as well as how and why she was kidnapped.
And then she is found, by an ex-prostitute now working as a governess in a posh house in Oslo hearing faint cries from a closed room in a dark basement. And this is where Holt’s two heroines enter the stage – the crippled, discrete and very smart Hanne Wilhelmsen and the well-trained Johanne Vik. Two women with secrets of their own trying as hard as they can to help another woman with a secret.
I enjoyed reading Death in Oslo. It is an interesting and in some ways remarkable book. The crime fiction plot rests on a couple of coincidences, but is actually quite good even so. And the writing is good, the story-telling very taut and quite convincing. Death in Oslo is a great read!