cover image Dead Joker: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel

Dead Joker: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel

Anne Holt, trans. from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce. Scribner, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2326-9

Edgar-finalist Holt’s powerful fifth Hanne Wilhelmsen novel (after The Lion’s Mouth) finds the Oslo chief inspector investigating the murder of Doris Flo Halvorsrud. The police suspect the culprit is her husband, Chief Public Prosecutor Sigurd Halvorsrud, who claims he was held at gunpoint and forced to watch as Ståle Salvesen—a businessmen he once investigated for insider dealing—beheaded his wife. Unfortunately for Sigurd, Ståle was seen jumping off the Staure Bridge the Monday before the murder. After Sigurd is released from jail, a journalist is decapitated and Sigurd’s fingerprints are found at the scene. Meanwhile, Hanne’s best friend and colleague, Billy T., faces down marriage and fatherhood, and her long-time live-in partner, Cecilie Vibe, battles cancer. Nuanced characters and a strong sense of place make for an immersive tale that packs an emotional punch and offers incisive commentary on the failings of the criminal justice system. Short chapters and a rapidly shifting perspective keep the pace swift despite a dizzyingly complex plot. (July)