The 10th and reportedly last of Holt’s novels about Oslo police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen ushers in 2016 with news of a 12-year-old murder that might just be a suicide and a brand-new suicide that smells more and more like murder.
“You knew I was innocent,” Jonas Abrahamsen tells retiring Superintendent Kjell Bonsaksen when their paths cross at a highway rest stop. “And yet you did nothing.” Two years after the accidental death of their toddler, Dina, began a death spiral for Jonas’ marriage to car sales manager Anna Abrahamsen, he was arrested for Anna’s murder and served eight years in prison. And he’s right: Bonsaksen always had his doubts about Jonas’ guilt but could come up with no other suspects in Anna’s fatal shooting. So Bonsaksen dumps his files on the lap of Officer Henrik Holme, and he naturally shares them with Hanne, whose own shooting (Odd Numbers, 2017, etc.) has reduced her to a wheelchair and the title of consultant. Despite its vintage, Henrik is keen on the Abrahamsen case, but Hanne’s more interested in the recent death of Iselin Havørn, whose sketchy dietary-supplement empire left her plenty of time to air her rabid anti-immigration views online. Despite the presence of a suicide note and the absence of any evidence implicating anyone else, Hanne quickly convinces herself that Iselin was murdered. It’s not nearly so easy to convince Henrik, and the mentor and her gofer repeatedly clash, largely over whether a mentor’s allowed to treat her colleague as a gofer. As they bicker over cases old and new, Holt focuses more and more uncomfortably on Jonas, a sympathetic, agonizingly troubled man who, unable to avoid the loss of everything that made his life worth living, resolves that he won’t be the only one to lose it all.
Despite some climactic surprises that aren’t, Holt closes her series with one of its strongest entries, combining a generous sensitivity to all with an unblinking portrait of a franchise sleuth who, pressed to defend the corners she’s cut, acknowledges, “I’ve become more pragmatic with age.”