While I’m eagerly awaiting the translation of more of Anne Holt’s Hanne Wilhelmsen novels, I’m digging into her Vik and Stubo series, which was translated first. This was a very satisfying read that felt a bit different than the other series. Johanne Vik is an academic psychologist who consults on a case of series of child abductions. She is a sort of profiler, but that is not the bulk of the work she does in the novel. Stubo is a widower whose story is quite sad: he returned to the detective inspector post after his wife’s death, and this book feels only partly like a police procedural.
This novel has a lot of plot and a lot of characters. Vik begins the novel investigating the wrongfully imprisoned Aksel Seier: after serving nine years in prison for murdering and raping a very young child, he was released from prison without explanation. Later she becomes involved in a series of child abductions after resisting a great deal, and realistically so, I believe. And why do I recommend reading a novel about such horrible crimes? Because Holt is very good at developing her characters. This is a novel about how to work with such horrible crimes or how to live with such horrible crimes (or horrible events, period), and the portraits cover a range of grief and other responses.
This novel is a bit long, but that only stands out to me because the first and last sections of the book are very quickly paced (complete with lots of short chapters) while the middle is a bit more ponderous. The relationship between Vik and Stubo is not typical because they’re both a bit odd, and other characters stand out as well. It’s not exploitative of the horrible plot that is the center of the book, and that’s quite a feat.