Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen’s No Echo
Women partners in crime fiction
Christine Foster Meloni
Without a doubt, Anne Holt has the credentials to write a realistic crime novel. She earned a law degree from the University of Bergen, worked in the Oslo Police Department, and served briefly as minister of justice in the cabinet of Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland in the late 1990s. She co-authored No Echo, the sixth in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, with former Secretary of State Berit Reiss-Andersen.
In No Echo (2016), Hairy Mary, the oldest hooker in Oslo, calls the police to inform them of a man’s body with a knife in its chest that she has discovered in the garden behind their headquarters.
The scene then shifts to Villa Monasteria, a hotel near Verona, Italy, where police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen has fled after the death of Cecille, her partner of 20 years. She has spent six months grieving in almost complete isolation, and she has finally decided to resurface and return to Oslo. She wonders if she still has a job.
When she turns up at Oslo police headquarters, she is not well received. She had suddenly left Oslo without an explanation. No one had any idea where she was and whether she was going to come back. Her old partner, Billy T., is the one who is especially irritated and hardly speaks to her. No one else is particularly pleased to see her, but she is reluctantly accepted and starts working on the latest murder.
Much to Hanne’s dismay, Billy T., who is in charge of the investigation, and the other officers are dispirited and unable to focus on trying to solve the crime. Her sudden departure obviously had a strong negative effect on the department. Hanne soon realizes that she must try to pull herself together and lead the others toward the solution. She struggles to overcome their resentment.
The murder victim is the renowned chef Brede Ziegler, owner of Entré, an upscale restaurant in Oslo. The list of suspects rapidly lengthens.
What about Ziegler’s young widow, Vilde? He had married her about six months ago, soon after meeting her in Milan, Italy. It was a strange marriage from the start. Vilde was 24 and Ziegler 47, almost twice her age. They seemed to be living separately. Had she married him for his money and decided she wanted it immediately? She naturally became Suspect No. 1.
But what about Vilde’s young boyfriend, Sindre Sand? They were on the verge of getting married when Ziegler snatched her away from him. Sindre definitely had a motive to eliminate the chef.
What about Claudio Gaglioastro, Ziegler’s Italian head waiter? He was supposedly Ziegler’s best friend, but was he too eager to take over the business?
What about Mrs. Helmerson, who had poisoned the cat of Thomas, the 10-year-old boy in her apartment building? She seemed an unlikely suspect at first but then she started acting strangely and, therefore, her name was added to the list. And what about Hairy Mary? Had she reported her own crime? She deserved more scrutiny.
Hanne is exasperated with Billy T. and the others. Since she is not in charge of the case, they see no reason to pay any attention to her advice. They are, therefore, ignoring important evidence and overlooking obvious leads. But Hanne perseveres despite the lack of support and eventually solves the case.
This is another page-turner starring Hanne Wilhelmsen that keeps the reader guessing until the very end!
Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen. No Echo (2016), New York: Simon & Shuster, Inc. Translated by Anne Bruce. Originally published in Norwegian in 2000 as Uten Ekko.
This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.