Review: Death of the Demon by Anne Holt

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DeathoftheDemonDeath of the Demon by Anne Holt (Scribner, 2013)

Blurb: In an orphanage outside Oslo, a twelve-year-old boy is causing havoc. The institution’s aging director, Agnes Vestavik, sees something chilling in Olav’s eyes: sheer hatred. When Vestavik is found murdered at her desk late at night, stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife—with Olav nowhere to be found—the case goes to maverick investigator Hanne Wilhelmsen, recently promoted to superintendent in the Oslo police. Hanne suspects that Olav witnessed the murder and fled, and she orders an investigation of the orphanage staff. But Hanne is hopeless at delegating, hopeless at pooling information, hopeless at sharing responsibilities. Only Hanne’s supreme deductive skills keep her on the job; this, however, is one case where her instincts are leading her astray.

Meanwhile, Olav makes his way to his once-unfit mother’s apartment in central Oslo. When police finally catch up to him, Olav will lead them on a chase that will upend all of their assumptions. A dark and captivating new chapter in this brilliant, rollicking series, Death of the Demon examines that murky intersection between crime and justice.

This, the third book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, tells the interlocking stories of the inhabitants of a foster home in Norway. A central figure is Olav, the young and out-of-control boy whose disappearance fuels speculation that he has committed the horrible murder of the foster home’s director. But as Hanne and her detectives investigate further, they discover a web of lies: secret lovers, embezzlement, larceny. With so many suspects, it’s difficult to determine who is guilty of what.

Hanne continues to be a brilliant detective but a poor manager, not only of her detectives but of her own life. She remains a closeted lesbian, which causes friction with her partner and with her colleagues—who aren’t quite sure why she’s so secretive about her private life—and which shapes her view of motherhood (itself a central concept in the novel).

As always, Holt shifts POV between characters, giving each a unique voice and adding depth to their personalities. Her ability to layer the procedural details of the investigation with the emotional responses of the characters makes this a series to follow.

This ARC was provided by Scribner via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 4 stars

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4 responses »

  1. I like this series! I’ve been frustrated because I have 1222, which is much later in the series, and I’m waiting for the ones in the middle to be translated before I read it.

    • This’ll be the first I’ve read so I hope it’ll make sense even if I don’t know the backstory, but most authors are quite good at letting readers jump in halfway through a series, I find. It’s always a problem with translations though that they don’t come out in order.

  2. Pingback: Death of the Demon (Hanne Wilhelmsen) by Anne Holt | FictionFan's Book Reviews

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