The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

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The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The first in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series - and beyond a definitely reasonable level of pleasure you can only assume the books improved slightly.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9780857897053

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Here is a rum do - a Nordic crime, and the launch episode of a currently successful series, that has sat untranslated for almost twenty years? What's more, when you start reading you may think the main character the author would choose to use as her principal heroine in future books should not be Hanne Wilhemsen, the too-good-to-be-true lipstick lesbian policewoman, but commercial lawyer Karen Borg, who is thrust into a world of criminal proceedings when a man who has clearly murdered another demands her and only her as the outlet of his truth. Is this a wise move from him - and just what is the game afoot, and who are the other main players?

This was, to repeat, the first in this series, and a little of that shows. Some of the contents are decidedly clunky - hmmm, a character can strip a motorbike, why might that become relevant? Everyone knows everyone else from the same law school, and other elements are a little contrived. It also has what might be a larger flaw - that of a nailed-on baddy before you're a third of the way through, and thereafter hundreds of pages before any real seed of doubt is sown.

But first book schmirst schmook. Within a couple of years of writing this Ms Holt was Norway's Justice Minister, so she's not exactly stupid. It is still a worthwhile visit to her world - I don't know how her characters evolve beyond these pages but those here are lightly described, yet fit together well and provide for engagement with an interesting plot, concerning an aspect of the Oslo underground that people like Jo Nesbo would approach quite differently.

It isn't the darkest, richest or best Norwegian crime novel, but this police procedural will certainly entertain to some extent for an evening or two. It has its sympathies with the police - they know just what they want to present to court, but cannot get the correct evidence or any convincing proof - yet can dip into the world of the crook. It also has a reasonable sense of narrative urgency, from naming the chapters after the dates the events happened and more. Presumably Holt became more accomplished, but this is still not really to be dismissed.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy - just as I present them six whole months early with my Howler of the Year award - the blurb to the first UK edition not only gives too much away, but has three major mistakes in the first four sentences.

You might choose to go next-door to Sweden next, with more female detectives in The Black Path by Asa Larsson.

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