Blind Goddess: (Hanne Wilhelmsen 1) (Hanne Wilhelmsen Series) Paperback – 1 Jan. 2013
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The tale of corruption that emerges exposes a convoluted network where it becomes impossible to tell the good from the bad. The plot is well explained and the characters extremely well crafted. I did find the pace of story telling a little slow at times, and as a result it took me a little longer to read than normal, but overall I enjoyed it.
As Hanne approaches the Dutchman in the custody cells and lays it on the table, telling him about the dead body found near the Aker river and what looks like an obvious connection, she is upfront and treats him with respect, even sharing her cigarettes. A simple blood match could add to his troubles and DI Hanne Wilhelmsen tells him that having a solicitor is advisable. Giving his name as Han van der Kerch, and admitting that he killed the man, he retains a reluctance to offer any form of defence. When Sand lets slip that it was a lawyer friend of his who came across the body, van der Kerch demands her as his legal representative. Karen Borg at the age of thirty-five is a very successful commercial lawyer, untested in the criminal field since passing her exams, albeit with excellence, eight years ago. Karen is intrigued enough to speak to the man and he offers the first clues as to his involvement in a drugs syndicate, of which he is merely at the bottom of the food chain and a small-time courier. With no knowledge of just whom is orchestrating the operation and rumours that some high-profile lawyers are involved, he is afraid for his life, explaining his fear of leaving the police HQ custody cells and entering prison, where the syndicate could pose a threat. Just five days later a shady lawyer by the name of Hans E Olsen who represented the deceased drug dealer on numerous occasions is discovered shot dead in his office and even the press are surmising on the connections between both the two murders and the bloodied Dutch student. Peter Strup, an eminent and suave criminal lawyer offers to take the case off Karen's hands on several occasions, which gives her more cause for concern as to just what she has stumbled over. Pretty soon the jitters are spreading, and it seems that Hanne Wilhelmsen and Håkon Sand can trust nobody when it starts to look like some of the people on their side of the law could be implicated.
Hanne Wilhelmsen is a woman known as the consummate professional, respected by colleagues and superiors alike and regarded as an honest and hard-working officer with a intuitive flair. Living with her female partner in a committed relationship, of which her colleagues remain in the dark, she is an aloof presence for some but an amiable colleague when it comes to working in close contact with her. I did find myself wanting to know more about her character, and aside from a great rapport with Billy T and Sand in the office, there was little colour regarding her personality. For instance, it took until over half way through for Holt to mention Hanne's beloved bright pink Harley-Davidson. I would therefore have appreciated a more well rounded depiction of the lead characters work/life balance. Although I appreciate that Hanne is the main character, I look forward to seeing Håkon Sand, Billy T and Karen Borg appearing in future novels of this series in some capacity.
I must say that on a number of instances I did feel like this tale was a little contrived, from the immediate suspicions about the connections between the matters, to the convenient pieces of evidence that are rapidly discovered and the behaviour of the naive journalist who seamlessly breaks into a lawyers office. It wasn't so much piecing the clues together as being handled them on a plate! The coded notes were found easily and in general there seemed to be plenty of fortuitous finds. Blind Goddess is an ambitious case, perhaps a little far-fetched, but this is a series with plenty of promise and one I shall endeavour to follow. Hopefully continuing instalments will fill out the character of Hanne and her lover in further depth, thus offering a better understanding of what drives this intelligent and highly capable woman.
Having read the first of the Vik and Stubo series, which I found a fluid read, this translation by Tom Geddes seemed a little more stifled, causing me to pause on several occasions. At several points I also found myself wanting further clarity on judicial matters arising from intricacies and differences in the UK legal system and the Norwegian. Notably, references to the "hit" squad that Billy T is part of brings to mind a team of officers devoted to monitoring the drugs scene, deterring dealers and monitoring supply. Portrayed as a rather boorish bunch of men, clad in scruffy attire to fit with the scene they seem to present an imposing prospect to officers who stray onto their territory. I cannot think of a corresponding UK arm of law enforcement that handles this apart from the drugs squad, and so would have appreciated further clarity.
It was only when I stopped to ponder that this novel was originally written in 1993 that a few of the observations and slightly odd turns of phase became more understandable. As a lesbian police officer with a distinct wall of silence between her professional and private life, rumours surrounding Hanne's sexuality were countered by virtue of her being an attractive woman, who opts for wearing a skirt when she is shackled into uniform. Likewise, a female doctor friend who she has been seen with is similarly feminine, and the attitude seems to be that a lesbian without dungarees and cropped hair is impossible! On other occasions I was surprised when distinctions between races of characters were pointed out, seeming somewhat inappropriate, "...the light was so strong that even the Pakistani shopkeepers looked pale...". Translated out of order, this novel appeared in English after the eighth outing for Hanne Wilhelmsen which explained some of these occurrences in a time before immigration was not so widespread.
There is little mention of technology in this investigation and knowing the period when this was written explained the IBM golf-ball typewriter and distinct lack of mobile phones. However, other than these points, there was little about this enthralling tale which made it feel dated. Interaction between colleagues, complete with the necessary gallows humour seemed remarkably unchanged. The ease of access both to Oslo police HQ and the custody cells seems more plausible in an age when security was less of a focus and this explains the assault on Hanne and how a lawyer visiting another client had unrestricted access to suspects in the custody cells. Karen Borg, hailing from Bergen, compares the area that she now resides in to her home territory and highlights the cameras and surveillance of the sophisticated local intelligence services, which all adds to the period feel.
At about three-quarters of the way through when the case is presented to a judge, I did find myself getting a little bogged down by the legal landscape and references to articles of the Penal Code, not enough to have trouble understanding the gist of the case though. I think that a fairly sizeable chunk of this court detail could have been omitted to make for a snappier novel and keep the reader more involved. The title is cleverly derived from an early reference in the novel to a statue of the Roman goddess of justice, Lady Justitia, located on the police commissioner's desk. Sand asks the commissioner why the statue has a blindfold over one of her eyes, only for the commissioner to reply, "She mustn't let herself be influenced by either side. She has to exercise blind justice, impartially." Given that this case is one which sends shockwaves through some of those at the highest echelons of power in the legal world, from lawyers to Special Branch officers, this is most definitely true.
Although it sounds like I have picked up on quite a few issues with Blind Goddess, it was thoroughly enjoyable and made for a compelling read. I do intend to return to DI Hanne Wilhelmsen in the not too distant future and already have the next two novels in the series awaiting me.
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
The premise of the story is good but the telling of the tale is very long winded. I forgot the original events and got lost in the mix of characters. Towards the end of the book a pursuit of one suspect left me almost laughing out loud at its ridiculousness. I really struggled to the to the end of the book.
Not sure if I will read any more in the series.
However, I persisted and I'm pleased I did.I liked Hanne and also a few of the other characters she works with as well and I'm hoping we get to stick with them as a team in the ensuing stories.
And there were also NO MISTAKES which was pretty wonderful for a free download !!
I'll look forward to Hanne's next outing. I have the second book in my Amazon wishlist.
Top international reviews
Would recommend as a suitable introduction to Nordic Crime fiction.
When Jo Nesbø proclaimed Holt “the godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction,” he was surely referring to the Norwegian editions. Apparently, they’ve lost a lot in translation. A lot. While Holt gets high marks for a gripping plot in this murder mystery, she falls down in almost every other respect.
A poor example of Norwegian crime fiction
First, the writing style is as flat as it could be. It’s hard to understand how she could be considered an accomplished professional writer, much less the godmother.
Second, Holt overuses coincidence and misdirection to confuse the reader and obscure the resolution of her plot until the very end of the book. When I read a story—yes, even a detective novel—I don’t want to stumble on every other page on the hidden identity of a character. She uses proper names rarely, and only about a few of her characters.
Third, the device used to resolve the mystery in Blind Goddess is hard to believe. I won’t reveal it here, just in case you may be planning to read the novel yourself. But you can be assured that I was shaking my head in disbelief when I arrived at the book’s conclusion. Clearly, I was mystified by the plot because the resolution was so unlikely.
About the author
All this is a pity. I would have expected a lot more from Anne Holt, not just because of Jo Nesbø’s endorsement but because of her own life story. Her background includes training and practice as a lawyer, two years with the Oslo Police Department, and service as Minister of Justice for two years. She must have learned a lot from all that experience. Too bad it wasn’t well reflected in her novel.
The story is told using some cleverly intersecting timelines in a way that makes the story less linear, increases tension and sustains some useful ambiguity
The action scene - there's only one - not much else really happens, despite there being multiple killings - is well-done.
It's set in Norway so there's snow and lots of polite aggression.
Things that made *Blind Goddess" a 2.5 star read:
I didn't care about any of the characters - even when they were the good guys and in mortal danger. The writing was too arms-length - too dependent on an omniscient authorial voice. I felt like I was reading a screenplay.
There was so little tension that, even though the plot is quite clever, I was tempted to give up about halfway through and read something that provoked more than mild curiosity.
What little tension there was depended on unlikely events, like a car failing for no reason or a man being so worried by a vague threat that he suicides.
The relationship between the main police officer and the prosecutor was central to the story and yet, after reading the whole thing, I still didn't know what that relationship was.
My advice: unless you're a true scandi crime fan, wait for the TV adaptation to come out.
As other reviewers have noted, "Blind Goddess"