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on 12 October 2013
... here just at the beginning of her career. It is the second book she wrote after The Blind Goddess (Hanne Wilhelmsen 1).

Before the readers continue to reclaim the "outdated" DNA procedures of the Oslo Police, please be aware that this book is the second in the Hanne-Wilhelmsen Series and the crimes take place in the year 1993!
The book first came out in Norway in 1994, so it is not surprising that the police has to work with the old methods.
So 20 years have passed...

...since the Oslo Police Department is finding in the hottest spring within living memory every early Sunday morning in solitary, enclosed places obvious crime scenes splattered with immense quantities of blood, but never a victim. Some numbers are scratched onto a wall - that's all.

The a young woman is raped in her apartment. Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen is charged with solving the case. Soon the victim's father starts an investigation of his own for the culprit with some real success. But his daughter cries for revenge...

Still at the beginning of the series, Hanne Wilhelmson is still a bit rough in her contours, but she will soon take a better shape in the following thrillers of the series.
I have read them all, years ago in German language and I can only recommend them!
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on 2 September 2014
I really enjoyed this a great deal and more than the first in the series. It makes it easier too when you've already "met" a lot of the characters featured.
This one does end 94% in and then we get the first chapter of the next book in the series which is in my wishlist as I certainly intend to stick with this series.
It's interesting the author was a minister of justice in her past career in Norway and probably helps a great deal with ideas for her books. I love her covers on the versions I've bought, I must mention here. They're very nice indeed.
I do wonder why the translating lady chooses American spellings. It seems most do.
There was one line that totally baffled me and it might be a figure of speech-"'Money's not everything in this world', said the old man, when he looked into a lady's handbag"...An expression I didn't understand either was somebody having a "kippered office".
Another expression I really liked-"the dandelions on the grass were becoming gray haired".....how nice....even though I'd have used grey ;)
I also noticed that a lot of the time when Hanne was mentioned her whole name was used which got a little irritating although a small criticism. There were funny parts along with sad parts and I loved the ending which was clever.
I also have the first book in her older Johanna Vik series downloaded so I hope that's as good.
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on 23 January 2013
Having enjoyed the first Hanne Wilhelmsen novel, I looked forward to this second book. and was not disappointed. In fact this is an assured and well crafted story which grips from the opening page.

The plot involves a murder, of course. but also deals with rape, illegal immigration and revenge; all handled with sensitivity and extraordinary compassion for the characters involved. As is true of the best writing in the crime genre, the relationships are as important as the events, and this is true for the heroine too. Hanne's personal life, so deftly established in the first novel, is developed here in a convincing and intriguing manner.

There is a well-sustained balance between our interest in the hunt for a brutal killer and rapist, ( a hunt by both the police and the rape victim's father), and in the growing tension at the heart of Hanne's own life.

The denouement is strong and left this reader eagerly awaiting Hanne Willhelmsen Three!
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on 29 January 2013
This is the second novel in the Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen series.
Oslo is experiencing a heatwave,whilst a spate of rapes and other
violent crimes are drastically stretching police resources.
Wilhelmsen is investigating both an incident of rape and case of
a large amount of blood found in a shed with no body,but numbers
found written in the blood.As the case progresses ,the rape victim,
her father,and Wilhelmsen are all in pursuit of the perpetrator.
This is a highly readable novel,although perhaps not the author at
the peak of her talents. An engaging plot,with a social edge,and
the ever fascinating Hanne Wilhelmsen.
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There seems to be a crime wave going on in the heat of the Oslo summer, and Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen and her colleagues are feeling the strain. There's been a spate of rapes, and though many of them are 'self-inflicted', as Hanne's boss charmingly puts it – i.e., date rapes – one is different. A stranger invades a young girl's flat and the rape is particularly violent and degrading. Meantime, some practical joker is spending Saturday evenings creating what look like blood-soaked crime scenes around the town, but with no bodies. Hanne's not convinced it is a joker though...

Hanne is a likeable detective - functional, hard-working, relates well to the people in her team. Her private life is stable, though she's hiding her long-term gay relationship from her colleagues and family – the book was only written a couple of decades ago, but oddly that strand already feels outdated, and rather clichéd. This means she doesn't socialise much with the team, so in some ways she's a bit isolated, though not a traditional loner. And she has a good friend in her colleague Billy T, who maybe knows her even better than she thinks.

Both strands of the plot – the rape and the Saturday night “massacres” - are interesting and Holt is excellent at setting the scene. The description of the rape is graphic without being gratuitous, but for my taste there's too much dwelling on the despair of the rape victim and her father in the aftermath. My views on misery-fests are well known to anyone who reads my reviews, but I do read crime primarily as entertainment and sometimes the voyeuristic wallowing becomes a bit much. However, the characterisation of both victim and father is very well done and their actions are for the most part believable.

Holt gets off to a great start, letting us know enough about the recurring characters to make this work fine as a standalone, and introducing the two major plot-lines nice and early so that the reader is hooked. And the ending takes on aspects of the thriller. It goes pretty far over the credibility line in places - one of these ones where you feel if people would just have a quick conversation a lot of angst could be avoided - but the quality of the writing carries it.

The major problem with the book is the tricky middle. For long stretches of time the police don't actually seem to do anything much, while constantly complaining of overwork. Can it really take three weeks to determine whether the blood left in the “massacre” scenes is human? And while they wait for results they do nothing else to try to find out who might be behind it. Is it really credible that the rape victim's father is able to find clues about the rape that the police missed, by merely questioning neighbours? If so, the competence of Hanne and her team can't be terribly high. Even I might have thought to ask if anyone had seen a strange car around the neighbourhood on the night in question. The overwork excuse is dragged out to cover every lapse that is required to allow the plot to develop into a thriller, but that leaves credibility as the major victim.

All this lack of investigation allows plenty of time for personal relationship stuff, though – most of which I could cheerfully have lived without, but that's just personal preference. And then when Holt finally moves towards the denouement she does so by having Hanne have a couple of those brilliant moments of inspired guesswork, based on pretty much nothing, so beloved of the fictional detective.

This is the second book in the successful Hanne Wilhelmsen series, which now stands at nine, though I think only eight have been translated into English so far. As so often, I jumped into the middle of this series with the third book, Death of the Demon, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one didn't impress me quite so much, but its problems are of the kind that often infect authors' early books. On the whole, they were outweighed by the strengths – the quality of the writing enhanced by a good translation from Anne Bruce, the excellent characterisation, and the basic idea behind the plot, even if the execution of it wasn't quite as good. And knowing that by the time of Death of the Demon, Holt was more in control of her plotting and pacing means this is a series I will look forward to returning to in the future. 3½ stars for me, so rounded up.
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on 29 March 2013
I received my copy from Corvus through Nudge and rated it 4.5 stars.

It is May and Oslo finds itself in the middle of an unseasonal heat-wave when Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen finds herself facing a disturbing scene. The abandoned shed is covered in blood, too much of it to have come from one single victim. But of such a victim there is no sign. All that can be seen are the copious amounts of blood and an eight-digit number painted on the wall with some of the blood. It is a Saturday night. Exactly a week later, Hanne is facing a similar scene. The location may be different but all the other details are exactly the same; too much blood and a - different - eight-digit number on the wall. But without a victim, the police have no idea what exactly they are investigating here.

A week later, again on a Saturday, a young student is violently raped. Although she has seen her attacker and can picture him perfectly in her mind she is unable to provide the police with a clear description of the man. And with cases piling up, and rapes being almost impossible to prove and prosecute Hanne and her team are not making any progress in finding the muscular rapist.

Then a body is found. And a link is established between the bloody numbers, the foreign woman and asylum seekers without connections. Someone is targeting these lonely and defenceless women. And a woman just like those who have already been killed is living in the same building as the student who was raped and she has gone missing.

Meanwhile the student and her father, having lost patience with the police and their lack of progress, decide to take the investigation into their own hands. Suddenly everybody is facing a race against time as the hot weather at last breaks.

Anne Holt does not write cosy stories. What she does write is realistic, well plotted and thrilling mysteries. Her detectives work in the real world where there is not enough time in the day to give every case the attention it needs. Her investigators make mistakes and find themselves scrambling to make up for them. Her characters are far from perfect but all the more real and recognisable for it.

I like the way in which the story is presented to the reader. We're given enough information to keep up with the investigators or even be ahead of them at times but not so much that it spoils the mystery. The thoughts and emotions of the characters all come across as real; the behaviour of the rape victim is completely plausible as are the feelings of powerlessness her father experiences. The frustration and fatigue the investigators experience as a result of lack of man power and a growing mountain of unsolved cases is probably more realistic than we would want to acknowledge. It all makes for a powerful and thought-provoking read.

I also like the way in which these stories are written. This book was easy to read and very hard to put down. I like the balance between the investigations and the private lives of the characters in these books. The story and the investigation in it progress at a steady pace, with the character's private details adding to the story rather than distracting from it.

There are times when it is obvious that we are reading a translated work, but not in an irritating way. In fact, on occasion this gives us wonderful expressions such as:

"It was so early not even the devil had managed to put on his shoes."

And that in turn gives us a real sense that we are in a `different' country, with a different language.

As with most Scandinavian mysteries I've read, this book provides a social commentary as well as an investigation. In this case the issues dealt with are rape and asylum seekers and neither of these come out of the book smelling of roses. Unfortunately that won't come as a surprise to any reader, whether they are from a Scandinavian country or anywhere else in the world. These issues, however, are presented as fact and neither preached about or excused.

Anne Holt has given her readers a short but thrilling mystery that will keep them engrossed and make them think; she is very good at what she does.
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on 29 August 2013
This great writer has been about for a while but the market has been dominated for too long by a dead sensationalist and a guy who has given up; the former, a flash in the pan, the latter, a genius who retired. This is gold, if not platinum!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting but it has a strange style. Nothing is cut and dried. For example the murderer's motives are not explained, nothing is more than superficially investigated and Hanne's relationships and motivations are elusive. I think this book mirrors real life where so many things are left unsaid and no one has the time to do a really good job of the task in hand because so many other things require attention but it is strange to see this in fiction where everything is normally so clearly delineated. Scandinavian crime readers will enjoy it but I'm not so sure if you like a straightforward police procedural.
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on 25 March 2016
Set in Norway, this was my first foray into Anne Bolts works. Unfortunately, once coming to grips who was who in the Norwegian police hierarchy, I found the pace of the story somewhat slow and plodding. The story became predictable and thus a tad boring. Never one to abandon a book less than fully read, I soldiered on to the end and found my earlier predictions of 'who-done-it' to be confirmed. I was disappointed with this book which suggested a 'good read' turned out (to my mind) to be almost second-hand. I'm looking forward to reading another Anne Holt to see if she can prove me wrong.
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on 27 December 2014
You need to pay careful attention to the twists and turns of this tale. Less Nordic gloom here though there are sub-plots that don't particularly add to the overall appeal. In any event, with one exception, when it comes to coping with the pressures of a busy professional and domestic life, Ms Wilhelmsen, the detective, is far better company than the inward-looking Ms Vik, the leading character in Anne Holt's other series. There's promotion ahead for this lady and after a breather, I'll happily tackle the next Hanne Wilhelmsen saga.
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