Beyond the Truth

Book review

Thor A. Larsen
Fishkill, N.Y.

Beyond the Truth

Book cover: Beyond the Truth by Anne Holt.

When I am looking to read a fast-moving modern mystery in a Norwegian setting, with very little if any violence, I turn to Anne Holt.

Since 1993, Holt has been a prolific author of thrillers and mystery novels. She’s written 20, with 10 of them starring detective Hanne Wilhelmsen of the Oslo Police Department. Holt certainly has credentials to write about mystery novels connected with the Oslo Police Department, because she spent two years with the department as a lawyer. In addition, Holt has been a journalist, minister of justice, and a news anchor. These various career experiences provided Holt with significant sources of materials for her books.

Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen is a lesbian and has a live-in lover, adding a new dimension to typical mysteries. Hanne is a very bright, strong-willed, attractive female, who tends to cause some conflicts with other members of the Oslo police force. Her closest colleague at the police force is Billy T, who also is very bright and physically big but has some shortcomings. Often Hanne and Billy T manage, with on-going conflicts, to jointly solve the crime.

Holt focuses on different areas of Oslo’s community for many of her books. In Beyond the Truth, Holt focuses on a wealthy shipping family. The story begins with the discovery of the elder parents, the son, and a visitor having been shot at the senior parents’ home. As the story unfolds, the police learn a considerable amount about the relationships between the murdered son and the living son and daughter with the parents. Inheritance issues weave through the story, casting the living son as a likely candidate for the shooter. A rather dysfunctional daughter, who happens to have obtained a gun, is another suspect.

In this particular Hanne Wilhelmsen story, considerable time is spent on her life and family relationships. She was never able to get along with her father, and she had issues with her older brother, who claimed she was spoiled as a child. In one segment of the book, Hanne and her partner had the brother’s son living with them.

The police seem to focus immediately on the living son, and actually jail him and his wife. Hanne is very skeptical and decides to explore the non-family member who was also killed. She tries to understand why he was visiting on that day and what his connection was to the family. With diverging views of the other police professionals, a typical Hanne conflict arises, and the reader tries to follow the rapid pace of solving the crime via the two competing groups.

This article originally appeared in the March 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.