Monday, June 9, 2014

Hank's Back With Another Great Mystery

In a foster home outside Oslo, a twelve-year-old boy is causing havoc. The institution’s steely director, Agnes Vestavik, sees something chilling in Olav’s eyes: sheer hatred. When Vestavik is found murdered at her desk, stabbed in the back with an Ikea kitchen knife—with Olav nowhere to be found—the case goes to maverick investigator Hanne Wilhelmsen, recently promoted to chief inspector in the Oslo Police.

Could the child be a murderer? As police canvass the city for Olav, Hanne, working alongside the foulmouthed detective Billy T., orders an investigation of the home’s employees. But despite her supreme deductive skills, she is hopeless at delegating, hopeless at pooling information, hopeless at sharing responsibilities. Can Hanne learn to trust others before her bullheaded instincts lead her astray—in the workplace and on the home front?

Meanwhile, Olav makes his way through the city, looking for the mother who was forced to consign him to the state’s care. A dark and captivating new chapter in this brilliant, rollicking series, Death of the Demon examines that murky intersection between crime and justice.
Hank says:
"Death of the Demon is set in a group foster home in Oslo, and is a much more traditional police procedural, reminiscent of the institutionally set mysteries often favored by P.D. James. The arrival of a new, particularly problematic boy upsets the equilibrium of the operation, and before long, the director is found stabbed to death at her desk. Readers will probably want the wretched child to be responsible, but when he runs off and disappears, the case becomes more complicated.

Published in Norwegian in 1995, Death of the Demon becomes an interesting time capsule, as the Hanne Wilhelmsen novels are now being translated retrospectively for publication in the U.S. While I'd generally be inclined to imagine European countries as much more progressive in the matter of gay rights, Hanne is not comfortable letting her colleagues know that she is a lesbian, and her private life involves a struggle with her partner, who would very much like for them to raise a child together, which Hanne does not see as a possibility. The last couple decades have certainly seen many changes in that regard."

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