BLIND GODDESS - Anne Holt
The Hanne Wilhelmsen series from Norwegian author Anne Holt is another one of those Scandinavian series that have been translated completely out of order. For reasons which, as usual, escape me completely. So <insert standard whinge about how profoundly annoying that is>, and onto BLIND GODDESS which is the book that started the whole thing off.
It would be bad enough to discover a battered body when jogging in the morning, but you'd doubt lawyer Karen Borg would also have been expecting to be called in as defence counsel for the Dutchman who is found wandering, dazed, covered in the victim's blood. Not only is Borg a witness, she's never heard of her new client, and she's not a criminal lawyer. For some reason the suspect will talk to nobody else.
What connection there is between a seeming drug deal gone wrong and the shooting death of a shady lawyer a few days later is equally unclear. Just to complicate the issue even more the Police Attorney assigned to the case is an old friend, would-be suitor of Karen Borg's who has partnered with Hanne Wilhelmsen to solve the crime. Wilhelmsen's motivation as always is to be a good cop, his is slightly less clear.
Needless to say this is a complex, enthralling plot which has all the elements you want for high intrigue. There's mysterious numeric codes, there's questions to be answered in both the legal and policing hierarchy, and there's the complications of personal connection weaving around all of the characters.
Even though this is a very good plot, the bit that really grabbed my attention is the building of the characters. If you've been suckered into reading the two books out of order, this is a very different Wilhelmsen from that in 1222. She's an interesting person, a dedicated and serious policewoman who will turn rule breaker when rules need to be broken. Likewise the Police Attorney, Hakon Sand plays an important part in the story, and the way he tries to balance his attraction for Borg with the responsibilities of the investigation is actually quite touching.
I was one of the people that liked the first translated book (actually the eighth in the series) 1222, although I will admit there's a thread within that book, leading to one of the more ridiculous conclusions I've ever come across (I just ignored all of that completely!). But I always did wonder about Wilhelmsen's background. No is the short answer, so if you had reservations about 1222 I'd suggest you come back to the start as well. See if you can get a connection with this series from where it's all supposed to kick off.
A small-time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. A young Dutchman, walking aimlessly in central Oslo covered in blood, is taken into custody but refuses to talk. When he is informed that the woman who discovered the body, Karen Borg, is a lawyer, he demands her as his defender, although her specialty is civil, not criminal, law. A couple of days later, Hansa Larsen, a lawyer of the shadiest kind, is found shot to death. Soon police officers Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen establish a link between the two killings. They also find a coded message hidden in the murdered lawyer’s apartment. Their maverick colleague in the drugs squad, Billy T., reports that a recent rumor in the drug underworld involves drug-dealing lawyers. Now the reason why the young Dutchman insisted on having Karen Borg as a defender slowly dawns on them: since she was the one to find and report the body, she is the only Oslo lawyer that cannot be implicated in the crime. As the officers investigate, they uncover a massive network of corruption leading to the highest levels of government. As their lives are threatened, Hanne and her colleagues must find the killer and, in the process, bring the lies and deception out into the open.