What is Mine, by Anne Holt

Emilie, nine years old, disappears on the way home from her school. What is Mine, by Anne Holt 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.