I first 'discovered Anne Holt when I read the Edgar nominated 1222 featuring recurring protagonist Hanne Wilhelmsen last year. (and loved it! - my review)

Holt is a Norwegian author and started the Hanne series in 1993. Holt has worked for the Oslo P.D., as a lawyer and a journalist and news anchor as well. This extensive background has added much authenticity to this crime series. The first books featuring Hanne are just being released to North American markets this year. Blessed Are Those Who Thirst is the second in the series.

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen and her colleagues are sweating it out - both figuratively and literally. Oslo is in the middle of a heat wave and crime rate is rising with the thermometer. Hanne is called out to investigate an abandoned shed - covered in blood with a series of cryptic number written on the wall. There's no body and until testing is carried out, no indication it is human blood. Hanne's caseload increases when she is given another crime to investigate - that of a brutal rape. But the rape clearance rate in Norway is appalling. And the victim and her father are aware of that....Then another blood soaked scene and set of numbers is discovered....

I was so enamoured of the middle aged Hanne in 1222 that it was a bit of a shock to encounter a young Hanne. But I enjoyed seeing the beginnings of this character - her interactions with fellow cops, her complicated relationship with her sexuality and her partner. Her initial enthusiasm has not been replaced by the cynicism that will come by 1222. What hasn't changed is Hanne's pursuit of the truth, her keen sense of observation and her dedication to justice.

Holt has two story lines running perpendicular - that of Hanne's investigation and personal life and that of the rape victim and her father. Both are intriguing. but also handled with thoughtful introspection. Holt successfully combines excellent plotting with an engaging lead as well as some social commentary to produce an excellent read. I did find the translation a little stilted, but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment.

Now, normally I won't go back to the beginning of a series if I've read the latest. In Holt's case, I will be making an exception. I'm quite taken with this series and will be watching for the next release. 

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