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Blessed Are Those Who Thirst: (Hanne Wilhelmsen 2) (Hanne Wilhelmsen Series) Paperback – 1 Mar. 2013
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In the first novel I struggled to get a handle on the characterisation of Hanne, with glimpses of her life and personality distinctly muted and this left me feeling a little ambivalent and craving to know more about the woman behind the uniform, and thankfully, Anne Holt has done just that with this follow-up. Readers learn much more about Hanne in the second novel, from her relationship with her live-in partner of fifteen-years, Cecilie Vibe, through to her passion for her rose-pink Harley Davidson. Despite a close working relationship with police attorney Håkon Sand and drugs specialist Billy T., who both admire and respect Hanne, in The Blind Goddess she was loathe to let them see a glimpse into her personal life. Both of these characters featured in the first novel and made a significant impression and through Hanne's interaction and dialogue with each, it provided the only chance to get closer to her enigmatic presence. The rather thuggish appearance of Billy T. belies a sensitivity and perceptiveness that sees him raise the first tentative mention of Hanne's sexuality and an opportunity to cross a divide which has seen her keep her long term partnership a secret in her workplace.
With Oslo in the grip of a somewhat unexpected heatwave, the streets in May are always busy, with alcohol flowing freely and tempers fraying. Already desperately underfunded and under-resourced the detectives are wilting under their case loads. That there is neither the time or the budget to do justice and investigate every report to the degree necessary is a source of consternation to many in the ranks. With limited budgets and so many crimes not being investigated to their full potential, perpetrators know how to play the system and exploit the vulnerabilities presented. A series of what become termed as the "Saturday night massacres" sees consecutive Saturday nights bringing reports of a bloodbath at various isolated locations, from a woodshed to a parking lot. With walls, floors and ceilings covered, the litres of blood estimated to have been involved indicate several adults would have needed to be slaughtered. However, with no victim, the Oslo police have nothing to investigative with forensics reporting the presence of both human and animal blood. Increasingly intrigued by these ongoing massacres, a closer appraisal of the crime scene photos sees eight-digit numbers scratched into the blood streaks. A stroke of luck and the increasing toll of the immigration caseload sees Hanne and Håkon discover that these eight-digit numbers all correspond to recent female immigrants who have entered the country alone and have subsequently disappeared. As Hanne and Håkon consider just who would have access to this confidential data, the expected Saturday night bloodbath goes unreported only for the brutal rape of a young medical student, Kristine Håverstad, to occur in its place. Hanne suspects some connection between the series of bloodbaths and the rape as she goes hell for leather locating witnesses and tracking down a scared Iranian asylum seeker to make headway in the investigation. But with a father and daughter set on exacting their own revenge, it is a race against time.. Hanne's understanding of the emotions that drive a father to turn vigilante is well explored as she tries to warn the man off of a path which could cost him everything yet would still not eradicate his daughter's assault.
The final pages are worthy of Fossum, leaving so many more questions about how life moves on in the aftermath of a rape. Futility abounds, not in the least for DI Hanne Wilhelmsen as she sympathises with a family devastated by a rape and forced to seek their own recourse, frustrated by the failure of the authorities. In a similar way to the catch-22 take on the sculpture which adorns Håkon Sand's desk in The Blind Goddess, Lady Justice again reveals the flaws in the system once again. This moving second in the series displays that, once again, not everything is as cut and dried as the law may like it to be and the result is an inevitable loss to society. This second novel marks the start of Anne Bruce's translation on the series and notably feels a less cumbersome and clunky read than the first. This noticeably slimmer entry in the career of DI Hanne Wilhelmsen covers just over two-hundred pages in length, but whereas the first book limped to a close, Blessed Are Those Who Thirst quenches readers desire to not only see more of the woman behind the authoritative mask, but a chance to appreciate some of the more difficult conundrums faced by an authority hindered by reduced resources and underfunding.
Whereas in The Blind Goddess the emphasis centred on the hard-working and highly successful detective inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen, in this second book Anne Holt offers readers a glimpse of Hanne's quick and lively humour and managed to convey a more humane police officer. Her encouragement and patience with the red haired rookie police constable, Erik Henriksen, is heartwarming. Holt also provided more of an insight into her relationship with long-term partner, Cecile than in the first entry, touching on just how prickly a topic acknowledging her lesbianism and long term union is for Hanne in her workplace. Several notable events coincide at the end of the novel, with Håkon Sand facing fatherhood and the all too early demise of fifty-year-old Chief Inspector Hans Olav Kaldbakken after a career of thirty-years in the force spent with a chain smoking habit. With the chief inspector vacancy open, whether the indefatigable Hanne applies or not is unknown, but opening up about her personal life seems to lighten a load that was so apparent in the first novel of the series. Finally with her invitation to Billy T. for dinner it seems that Hanne is confident enough to show her true colours. This is a series I look toward continuing to read with well-realised characters and an appreciation for the limitations to the justice system. With Anne Holt's intimate knowledge of the police force, law and the justice systems in Norway, she offers a uniquely perceptive snapshot of the problems increasingly being faced.
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
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.
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.
Top international reviews
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!
Personaggi abbastanza interessanti ma storia non ricca di particolari. Insomma...non so se acquisterei un secondo libro di Holt
j'ai aimé les caractére, comme dans la vie réelle et la réalité de la situation. texte bien écrit est assez direct.