I received my copy from Atlantic Books through Book Geeks and would rate this book 4.5 stars.
Karen, a corporate lawyer, discovers a body while walking her dog. The man, who will be indentified as a drug dealer, has been battered to death. Hours later a young Dutch man is found wondering through the streets of Oslo, covered in blood. The Dutch student is taken into custody but refuses to speak and will only accept legal representation if it comes from the lawyer who found the body. When five days later a shady criminal lawyer is murdered the two crimes don't seem to be related. But Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen suspects otherwise and her instincts are rarely wrong. When she discovers that the murdered lawyer had defended the murdered drug dealer she has been vindicated and now Hanne and her colleagues have a real case to investigate. But it is a case without any real leads and far more questions than answers. And when another drug dealer is killed while in prison, Hanne is attacked in work and the Dutch student scared into insanity it becomes apparent that the investigators are up against powerful forces. Forces that are willing to do almost anything to keep their network and motives secret.
This is my second encounter with a mystery by Anne Holt and I have to say I am impressed. Like "1222" this is a well plotted and very well written book. The mystery, which appears straightforward enough, gets more complicated as the story proceeds. The reader is given more then enough insight into what is going on to keep up with the investigators and at times has access to a bit more information than the characters in the book. Don't let that fool you into thinking that you know what is going on though, nothing is as clear-cut as it might appear and the author has a few surprises in store for the reader.
I really appreciated how realistic this description of an investigation was. The reader gets completely swept up in how frustrating proper police procedure can be for the investigators. No shortcuts are taken in this book, coincidences and suspicions are not enough to warrant an arrest. The investigators have to dig and dig deeper in order to find the evidence they need to act against those they suspect. And evidence is hard to come by.
There is a very nice balance between the crimes, the investigation and the private lives of the various characters in this book. We learn enough about the characters to take an interest in them and their well-being while those details never interrupt the flow of the story or the unravelling of the mystery.
It is interesting to discover that Anne Holt is a former minister of justice in Norway. Reading this book with that knowledge in the back of your mind does make you wonder what exactly is going on at government level, how much is going on behind the scenes that we, the public, are never supposed to find out about.
It seems that I have managed to find myself another must read mystery author and I'm looking forward to reading the 6 titles between this one and 1222 and get the rest of Hanne's story as well as the undoubtedly excellent mysteries.