Author: Anne Holt
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Copyright Year: 2011
Review By: Phyllis King
A drug addict dead in a basement, a young asylum seeker floating in the harbour, a high profile female bishop stabbed to death in the street. What is the connection? During a snowy Christmas season in Norway, criminal psychologist and profiler Inger Johanne Vik finds not only her husband and herself but also her autistic daughter drawn into the investigation of a number of disturbing deaths. Her husband, detective Yngvar StubA , has been dispatched to Bergen to investigate the shocking Christmas Eve murder of a local female bishop. Meanwhile, in Oslo, dead bodies keep turning up, though the causes of death vary. Before long, Inger Johanne will incredulously discover something that will link them all.
This is a novel of secrets, of families and of murder. The book opens with a small girl, dressed in a light night-dress standing in the middle of the road quietly singing to herself. Oblivious both to the freezing, snowy Norwegian night around her, and the large Number 19 tram bearing down on her, she is snatched from the road at the very last minute, by a stranger who hands her to her mother, gives a bow and disappears into the gathering crowd.
The girl is Kristiane – possibly Autistic, possibly not – but certainly a special child. She is the daughter of Johanne Vik, criminal psychologist and profiler. Her stepfather is Adam Stubo, detective with the police organisation, NCIS and he will be called out on Christmas Eve to investigate the murder of Eva Lysgaard, 62-year-old Bishop of Bergen who has been stabbed to death while out walking.
In the meantime, a woman is reported missing when she is not on her expected return flight from Sydney when it lands in Copenhagen and the body of a young boy is found floating in the river, with no missing person report and no-one to claim him.
As we move between the stories of these crimes and meet the people closely related to the victims, there would seem to be no link between them. But gradually Johanne starts to realise with growing horror, that there may be a connection – that of pure hatred – and that the killings may not yet be over.
The only gripe with this book is that when Johanne senses there may be danger to members of her family, she fails to advise her husband and Kristiane’s father. It is difficult to believe in a criminal psychologist who can see the horror of these crimes and yet not do everything possible to protect her own family.
Nevertheless it’s a well-written and absorbing book and worth reading.