I’ve read a lot of Anne Holt, in part because her approach on writing a series is to have a few recurring characters whose place in the story varies. Some of the early books in the series feel like thrillers or police procedurals while 1222 is a locked-room sort of mystery, and Death of the Demon felt almost like a novella with a very obvious social conscience. It’s great to read different kinds of stories with different characters taking prominence, but, unfortunately, this politics-heavy installment in the Hanne Willhelmsen series didn’t quite grab me.
This is a political story: prime minister Birgitte Volter is found shot dead in her office, and the Norwegian government is in crisis. There are a lot of characters to introduce both in the investigatory teams and the political teams. Hanne Willhelmsen appears as an afterthought: she is living in California and on leave from the police but consults with her good friend, Billy T, another unorthodox detective.
Because of the large cast of characters, the book feels a bit long to me. We get inside everyone’s heads. Also, the book veered into political wrangling and party politics where the points got a bit speech-y or maybe preachy. This may have grated on me more because we’re in the middle of presidential debate season here and I’ve had my fill of political speeches. All in all, this is not my favorite in the series, but I’m curious to read the next installment, Dead Joker.
The Lion’s Mouth by Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen
Translated by Anne Bruce
Originally published as Løvens gap, 1997
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.