Friday, August 16, 2013

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst

Anne Holt’s Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel, is the first book by this author I have read even though her novel, 1222, was nominated for an Edgar in 2011 and her first book has been translated into twenty-five languages. 

Although I am rather, “late to the party,” I can understand why her work has an audience all around the world.  Ms. Holt writes about a Norway that Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe would feel right at home in if he learned to speak Norwegian. Twice I was tempted to abandon the book. First, I found the description of a rape in the book almost too graphic.  Second, I found the police slang given women who are raped after they went home with men they did not know after drinking to excess —“self-inflicted rape” to be infuriating and demeaning.  To be fair, the graphic writing is absolutely appropriate to the plot and, thankfully, fairly brief; the slang sounds like the kind of black humor police would use. I am glad I persisted. I was rewarded with an excellent read.

Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is assigned to investigate a serial killer and a rape during an unseasonally brutal heat wave in Oslo.  She relentlessly pursues the  few clues available slowly assembling a portrait of the criminals. The detective emerges from the book as an enigmatic but real person who balances the demands of her job and her personal life.  If you like hard-boiled fiction, excellent writing and unpredictable twists, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy this novel. 

Note: I will be on the other side of the world when this blog posts. I will be on safari in Tanzania.  I will read the comments when I return.


  1. Thanks for the review, Warren. I’m not sure I need to add that much graphic violence into my reading life, even if the writing is superb.

    ~ Jim

  2. I've tried, what I call-Scandinavian- mystery writers, and I find them dark. Since I'm unfamiliar with the culture, it makes me wonder about the psychic of those countries. Is it the darkness and length of the winter that produces such dark works? I'm sure you found the stark and graphic tone commensurate to the plots, which makes for a good read, but I read for enjoyment. Dark doesn't equal enjoyment for me. Thanks for the review.

  3. I agree with Jim and E.B.'s comments. I'm glad to know about this author, but not sure I want to add her titles to my reading list. Hope your journey to Africa is wonderful and I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

  4. Like Jim, E.B. and Paula, I don't care for dark mysteries. I can read about murder, of course, but I don't care for gory details. I'm looking forward to your blog about your trip to Africa.