There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
Big Review: The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt
About the Book:
A drug dealer is killed and a young man is found, covered in blood, wandering aimlessly through the streets of Oslo. It looks like a simple case but leads Hanne Wilhelmsen to uncover a conspiracy of epic proportions. This is the first in Anne Holt’s series about Hanne.
What I liked:
The plot was great, nice and twisty with plenty of both red herrings and legitimate clues. I liked that there were clues in the background of the text that it didn’t feel the need to point out to you so you could solve the mystery yourself.
It was also written in such a way that figuring out the twist didn’t ruin the rest for me. I wasn’t drearily turning pages waiting to get through the rest, frustrated with the stupidity of the investigators who couldn’t see what was right in front of them. (A feeling I sometimes experience reading crime books!) I was excited to get to the end and see whether I was right.
The action scenes were also really well done. There was a real feeling of suspense in some parts and I wasn’t sure whether all of the characters were going to survive.
There were also some great characters, like Hanne and Billy T, but I did wish that there were a little more development of them. Often, the portrayal was very shallow. A great example of this is the page describing Hanne before she actually appears. We discover that she is professional, well-liked, respected, aloof and great at her job. It would have been nice to see more of these character traits in her actions and interactions with other characters rather than job being told about them.
Things I didn’t like:
I didn’t like Karen Borg. I don’t know why. I just didn’t really care about her as a person and found it hard to maintain my reading momentum in sections that were purely about her. I think she appears in other books in the series so maybe she’ll grow on me.
I also found that the book took a little while to get going. This might be connected to my previous point as there’s a lot about Karen Borg at the very beginning of the story. The first 100 pages or so were still good but I didn’t really get that ‘I can’t do anything else until I finish this book’ feeling until about halfway through.
I also found (as I usually do when reading translated fiction), that I struggled with the names of people and places. This is obviously a personal quibble, not a fault in the book, and might not be a problem for other people but I found that I missed certain information because I had skimmed over the name of a character or failed to grasp the idea of a location.
Speaking of names, it really bothered me that Hans E. Olsen’s name was wrong on the back of the book. And not just a little wrong either. I know that the people who write the blurb on the back haven’t always had a chance to read the book but it seems like a pretty easy mistake to avoid.
I also thought it was a shame (again, this isn’t a problem with the book itself) that I’d already read 1222, a story set much later during the same timeline after some pretty serious events have happened to Hanne. In fact, the two Hanne Wilhelmsens were barely recognisable as the same character. I wish they would translate books in sequence because I almost feel like I don’t want to read the rest of the series to see how she changed so drastically.
This is a book that does a lot of things right. The mystery is interesting and the characters are (largely) likeable. If you’re a fan of scandinavian crime fiction and you haven’t already read 1222, you should definitely read this. If you have read 1222, you should still read this but be aware that you might come away feeling a little disappointed – they are very different books.
I give this book 4/5