Cover image of "Blind Goddess," an example of Norwegian crime fiction

Blind Goddess is the first of nine entries to date in Anne Holt’s series of detective novels featuring Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen. I don’t plan to read any of the rest of them.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When Jo Nesbø proclaimed Holt “the godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction,” he was surely referring to the Norwegian editions. Apparently, they’ve lost a lot in translation. A lot. While Holt gets high marks for a gripping plot in this murder mystery, she falls down in almost every other respect.

A poor example of Norwegian crime fiction

First, the writing style is as flat as it could be. It’s hard to understand how she could be considered an accomplished professional writer, much less the “godmother” of the craft.

Second, Holt overuses coincidence and misdirection to confuse the reader and obscure the resolution of her plot until the very end of the book. When I read a story—yes, even a detective novel—I don’t want to stumble on every other page on the hidden identity of a character. She uses proper names rarely, and only about a few of her characters.

Third, the device used to resolve the mystery in Blind Goddess is hard to believe. I won’t reveal it here, just in case you may be planning to read the novel yourself. But you can be assured that I was shaking my head in disbelief when I arrived at the book’s conclusion. Clearly, I was mystified by the plot because the resolution was so unlikely.

Blind Goddess (Hanne Wilhelmsen #1) by Anne Holt ★★☆☆☆

About the author

All this is a pity. I would have expected a lot more from Anne Holt, not just because of Jo Nesbø’s endorsement but because of her own life story. Her background includes training and practice as a lawyer, two years with the Oslo Police Department, and service as Minister of Justice for two years. She must have learned a lot from all that experience. Too bad it wasn’t well reflected in her novel.

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