Title: Death of the Demon (Hanne Wilhelmsen #3)
Author: Anne Holt
Reader: Kate Reading
Category: Mystery- Police Procedural
Audio published: June 18, 2013 by Blackstone Audio (First published 1995)
Rating: 4½ out of 5 stars
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, but 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.
Death of a Demon was a surprising mystery and an interesting commentary on guilt and justice. This is the second in the series I’ve listened to, but could work fine as a stand-alone.
Setting: The foster home is not a horrible place. The staff truly care about the kids and for the most part the kids seem fairly happy. The kids help each other, tease each other. It felt real to me, and I did work in a children’s home years ago.
Characters: Hanne Wilhelmsen is a strong lady, stand-offish, but a brilliant investigator- not so good as a manager. I think she realizes it though and will helpfully grow into her new professional role. She keeps her personal life very separate from her professional and tries not to let her colleagues know that she lives with her female partner. I find her almost double-life rather sad. The story was written in the mid-90s and I don’t know what Oslo was like then, or now for that matter, but it seems like she could have been more open about who she is.
Hanne’s working this time around with Billy T., a large tough-looking man who is probably one of the few people she lets glimpse her private life. He’s a good character, one who appearance belies his intelligence and kindness. They’re a good team, both as friends and as police, almost finishing each other’s thoughts.
Olav is an interesting boy. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time he was not a nice, good kid.
Holt switches viewpoints between characters, giving us glimpses into the thoughts, actions, reasoning of a number of them. On the one hand, it makes it a well-rounded story, on the other hand it can be a little like you’re talking to one person and all of a sudden someone else is there, in the middle of a different conversation and it takes you a minute to catch up. I will say thought, that even seeing the world through everyone’s eyes, I was still surprised by the ending.
Plot: The suspect pool is small. It had to be someone who was supposed to be at the foster home, someone who knew his/her way around. As in most good mysteries, there are secrets and tensions, but I have to admit I really liked the ending. It caught me off guard.
Reader: I like listening to “foreign” mysteries on audio rather than reading them in print. Reading’s pronunciations of names and places were way better than what I would have come up with. She also did a good job imbuing each of the characters with a distinct personality.
Recommendation: Grab this one!
Hanne Wilhelmsen Series