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Punishment by Anne Holt

Punishment (2001)

by Anne Holt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Vik/Stubo (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This is the first Anne Holt I have read and I'm going to hold too much judgment until I've read another, later one. A complicated plot that felt like disconnected stories that only come together near the end should have worked, but I kept getting rather lost. I'm not smart enough to suggest a solution (and what point would there be?), but other writers carry this off better. Pity, because the ideas were really clever, and, finally it does comes together, even if a few AMAZING coincidences stretch belief. Bit disappointing. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Aug 15, 2017 |
The first of the Johanne Vik & Adam Stubø books, PUNISHMENT, is now available in paperback locally. An excellent crime fiction series by Norwegian author Anne Holt, this has been a series that could be (well had to be) read out of order. Now there's something compelling about being able to go back to the start, and work your way through.

Originally read by this reviewer back in 2007, when it was newly translated, PUNISHMENT is the novel that introduces an unusual investigative (ultimately personal) coupling of academic and former FBI profiler Johanne Vik and Detective Inspector Adam Stubø of the Oslo police.

As summarised in my earlier review:

"When 9 year old Emilie goes missing her father is worried but not frantic. She'd done this once before just after her mother died. This time, they don't find her. When a little boy disappears and ultimately is returned to his parents; dead, no obvious cause of death, and a handwritten note: You Got What You Deserved; Oslo starts to worry.

Police Superintendent Adam Stubø, working the case, turns to former FBI profiler Johanne Vik for help. Johanne is already looking into the conviction of Aksel Seier for the rape and murder of a young child many years ago. An old lady really wants to know if Seier was guilty or not. Johanne is not confident that she can help Adam, but he is increasingly desperate for any sort of lead that the Police can get. He and his team make very little progress and they soon have 3 abducted children, two dead and a chance that Emilie is still alive."

The focus of this novel moves between Oslo and that current case of a child killer, and the US and the cold case of Aksel Seier. The two central characters are each, in their own way, obsessed with their respective cases, and the complications that they bring. An odd message from the killer in the current day case, and a dying woman who wants the truth to be found before it's too late for her - and a man who has lived with the consequences of a child killing many years before. Woven into the story of these children and all of their dreadful deaths and the consequences of them, is the story of Vik's own daughter, who is intellectually disabled, and Stubø's own loss of his wife and daughter. Whilst there's no romantic attachment in this initial book, readers of subsequent novels in the series will know that something builds between these two main characters, as their professional involvement increases.

My main quibble at the time still stands - there is a tendency to concentrate on building the central characters quite a bit in PUNISHMENT. If we'd have been lucky enough to read this series translated in order then right from the start it was obvious there were plans for these two, and this initial novel is laying a lot of ground work. Which is a minor quibble in the overall scheme of things - possibly only noticeable because of the round about way in which we got a chance to read the series. Vik and Stubø are a great pairing though, and re-reading PUNISHMENT was an opportunity to remind myself of what a great series this is.

https://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-punishment-anne-holt ( )
  austcrimefiction | Apr 20, 2017 |
While I’m eagerly awaiting the translation of more of Anne Holt’s Hanne Wilhelmsen novels, I’m digging into her Vik and Stubo series, which was translated first. This was a very satisfying read that felt a bit different than the other series. Johanne Vik is an academic psychologist who consults on a case of series of child abductions. She is a sort of profiler, but that is not the bulk of the work she does in the novel. Stubo is a widower whose story is quite sad: he returned to the detective inspector post after his wife’s death, and this book feels only partly like a police procedural.

This novel has a lot of plot and a lot of characters. Vik begins the novel investigating the wrongfully imprisoned Aksel Seier: after serving nine years in prison for murdering and raping a very young child, he was released from prison without explanation. Later she becomes involved in a series of child abductions after resisting a great deal, and realistically so, I believe. And why do I recommend reading a novel about such horrible crimes? Because Holt is very good at developing her characters. This is a novel about how to work with such horrible crimes or how to live with such horrible crimes (or horrible events, period), and the portraits cover a range of grief and other responses.

This novel is a bit long, but that only stands out to me because the first and last sections of the book are very quickly paced (complete with lots of short chapters) while the middle is a bit more ponderous. The relationship between Vik and Stubo is not typical because they’re both a bit odd, and other characters stand out as well. It’s not exploitative of the horrible plot that is the center of the book, and that’s quite a feat.
  rkreish | Aug 10, 2014 |
This decidedly creepy thriller is based on the abduction of a series of children and goes back and forth between perspectives: abductor, abductee, investigator... Holt paints a chillingly normal portrait of all the characters - the villain, reluctant hero, police, children are all just normal folk. Their motivations and ultimate actions are occasionally shocking, but the characters feel like someone you know.

Although there are strands of many stories woven expertly in this novel, the main thread concerns an academic who is a reluctant expert on psychological profiling. Johanne's sought out by the Oslo policeman Adam Stubo to help him find the man who has abducted several children and delivered two of them dead to their parents, while finding the motivation for the crimes. Johanne reluctantly joins the investigation and a multi-level partnership begins between her and Stubo. The richness in the story, though comes from the emotional outpourings from characters in several of the side stories: the man who was falsely accused of child abuse many years earlier, the elderly woman who tried to clear his name, a mother with a painful secret about her son. Each character is believably drawn. ( )
  Hanneri | Dec 17, 2013 |
In present day Norway a nine-year-old girl has disappeared, presumed kidnapped, then a younger boy disappears and his body is found soon afterwards. There’s a sinister note found with the body but no one is sure if the boy’s disappearance is related to the girl’s. The police inspector in charge of the case, Adam Stubo, seeks help in solving the cases from Joahnne Vik: a lawyer and psychologist. Johanne is reluctant to get involved for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact she is, at the same time, becoming intrigued by an older case. Many years ago a man called Aksel Seier was sent to prison for raping and killing a young girl but was released a few years later under odd circumstances and Johanne is looking into the case on behalf of an ageing lawyer who never believed Seier was guilty.

Thinking about it now this was quite a complex story but it never felt like it while reading it as all the components were drawn together well. Even though there were two quite separate threads for a majority of the book I never found either difficult to follow. I found it quite fascinating to read about horrid events unfolding in a place where such things are rare as there was a noticeable difference in the language used and the reactions ascribed to the various players than would be the case if the book had been set in the US. The ending to the story was a bit disappointing though because it relied too much on a string of coincidences and left a couple of things completely unresolved. These elements (which I can’t be more specific abouot without giving away spoilers) appear to have been forgotten about rather than deliberately left to the reader’s imagination but I could be wrong about that. Either way it was a little annoying to be left in the dark.

The characterisations were generally good although I did tire a bit of the relationship between Johanne and Adam which was a ‘should we sleep together or not’ kind of thing. I just wanted them to either get on with it or shut up about it and found it difficult to imagine two grown adults with no ties would behave as immaturely as they did (surely one of them could have been a grown-up). However there were many other elements to both of their characters which were much more satisfying to watch develop and there were a string of minor characters who were also thoughtfully and artfully depicted. Emilie, the first child to be kidnapped in the story, made me weep.

This book had a high degree of what I like to call unputdownability (i.e. it made me late for work) and, overall, the annoyances were forgivable. I can’t help thinking I’ll be remembering some of these characters for a long while yet which is always the sign of a good read. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Holt, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dickson, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamberti, LucaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Een heel land in de ban van een ontvoerder.
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She was walking home from school.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446578029, Hardcover)

One afternoon after school, nine-year-old Emilie doesn't come home. After a frantic search, her father finds her backpack in a deserted alley. A week later, a five-year-old boy goes missing. And then another. Meanwhile, Johanna Vik, a former FBI profiler with a troubled past and a difficult young daughter, is buried in crimes of the past, trying to overturn a decades-old false murder conviction. Police Commissioner Stubo has personal reasons for wanting to solve the case of the missing children: not long ago he lost his wife and only daughter in a terrible accident, and now all he has left is his young grandson. When he tries to enlist Johanna to help him crack the case, she's resistant. However, when the bodies of the missing children start appearing in their family's homes with notes that say, "You got what you deserved," Johanna decides to help Stubo. While the rest of the Norwegian media is out hunting pedophiles, Stubo and Johanna manage to uncover a complex story of revenge. A singularly clever crime story combined with a serious discussion of children and our responsibilities towards them, What is Mine is the first installment in the the Stubo/Johanna crime series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In a matter of days, two children in Norway have been kidnapped - by whom and for what reason is anyone's guess. And now one child is dead, packed like a piece of furniture and delivered to his parents' home with a horrifying note. Stumped and desperate, Norwegian police inspector Adam Stubo hopes former FBI profiler Johanne Vik can come up with answers." "Already immersed in the investigation of a murder suspect who fled to the United States forty years ago, Vik is reluctant to take on the case of this boy and the kidnapping of a little girl named Emilie, two crimes which seem to have nothing in common. Then another child is abducted, and Vik, a mother of a six-year-old herself, can no longer stand idly by.""Now, with a few clues in sight and the lives of who knows how many innocents at stake, Stubo and Vik weave their way through a complex maze of madness and revenge. For Stubo, who knows all too well what it is like to lose a child, talking to the grieving parents is a nightmare in itself. But it can't compare to what one particular little girl is experiencing at the hands of a madman."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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