Reviewed by Thor A. Larsen
When I am looking to read a fast-moving modern mystery in a Norwegian setting, with very little if any violence, I turn to Anne Holt.
Since 1993, Anne Holt has been a prolific author of thrillers and mystery novels. My count was 20 with 10 stories about detective Hanne Wilhelmsen of the Oslo Police Department. Ms. Holt certainly has credentials to write about mystery novels connected with the Oslo Police Department because Ms. Hole spent two years with the department as a lawyer. In addition, Ms. Holt was a journalist, former Minister of Justice as well as a news anchor. These various career experiences provided Ms. Holt with significant sources of materials for her books. Hanne Wilhelmsen is a lesbian, and has a live-in lover, adds a new dimension to typical mystery mysteries. Hanne is very bright, strong-willed, attractive female, who tends to cause some conflicts with other members of the Oslo police force. Her best colleague at the police force is Billy T, who also is very bright, physically big but has some short-comings. Often, in solving crimes, Hanne and Billy T manage, with on-going conflicts, often jointly solve the crime.
Ms. Holt focuses on different areas of Oslo’s community for many of her books. In ’Beyond the Truth, Ms Holt focused on a wealthy shipping family. The story begins with the discovery of the elder parents, the son and a visitor having been shot at the senior parents’ home. As the story unfolds, the police learned a considerable amount about the relationships of the killed son and the living son and daughter with the parents. Inheritance issues weaves through the story casting the living son a likely candidate as the shooter. A rather dysfunctional daughter, who happens to have obtained a gun is another candidate for the murderer.
In this particular Anne Wilhelmsen story, considerable time is spent on her life and family relationships. She never was able to get along with her father, and she had issues with her older brother who claimed she was spoiled as a child. There was a segment of the book where Anne and her partner had the brother’s son living with them.
The police seem to focus immediately on the living son and actually jail him and his wife. Hanne is very skeptical and decides to explore the non-family member who was also killed. She tries to understand why he was visiting on that day, what was his connection to the family. With diverging views of the other police professionals, a typical Hanne conflict arises and the reader tries to follow the rapid pace of solving the crime via the two competing groups, The crime is solved on the last few pages as is typical.