By Derryll White
Anne Holt is not intimidated by “specialness.” Rather, she embraces it and allows her major character’s daughter Kristiane, who is blessed with “differentness,” the respect of being real, alluring, intriguing. Throughout the author is tough on Norway, a small traditional country with police who are “provincial, weaponless eunuchs.”
Holt is fierce in her determined perceptions that women in Norway have equality, “can do what they want” and gets that out of the mouth of Kristiane, Johanne Vik’s five-year-old daughter.
The symbols are trotted out early, and immediately used to focus analysis. Origami indicates a premeditated act of murder, a split tongue hate and lies. History is rejected for myth, truth for story (but only in some instances). Story, in turn, is analyzed using the cold light of forensic documentation and police procedures.
Adam Stubo, the husband of Johanne Vik and a nearing 50 policeman with almost 30 years on the force, is a sensitive character with endless understanding for Kristiane. Kristiane is not Adam’s daughter, but is his link with the humanity he loses daily in his job.
Desperate people, suffering in silence, wrote to one of the victims, Fiona Helle the face behind the incredibly popular Norwegian TV show ‘On the Move With Fiona.’ They poured out their lives to her, in the manner of Oprah or Dr. Phil and were, in large part, rejected. These suffering souls wrote to God (Fiona) and were answered with silence. Did this kill Fiona?
Anne Holt is an interesting writer. Much of ‘The Final Murder’ reads as a psychological profile of what it is to be human. Johanne is, after all, the consummate profiler. There are little hints of place here and there, of special earth and landscape knowledge, but all is usurped by the exclusivity of Norway itself which Anne Holt develops admirably.
Life is a meaningless period of time between birth and death. The author maintains we cannot “outwit life” by engaging in extreme acts of daring in extreme adventure sports. Dying is merely “a pleasant end to the boredom.” But that is not to say that the book is not imbued with a colossal sense of intrigue, tension and lust for the human spirit.
What is it to be Norwegian? The author, stolidly Norwegian herself, refers to it in the negative, considers what it is to be un-Norwegian. One gets the sense that the pressures of the outside world are defining Norway now (and recent events certainly seem to underline that theory).
Ultimately this novel is devoted to recognizing the possible existence of “pure, genuine evil.” But having said that I think it is an extremely challenging and good read and I look forward to reading more of the Adam Stubo-Johanne Vik series from this author.
Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them. When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.Tags: Anne HoltBook ReviewDerryll WhiteThe Final Murder
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