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Fear Not by Anne Holt

Fear Not (2009)

by Anne Holt

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The fourth, and most successful, of the Vik/Stubo novels opens as a young girl wanders around Oslo city at night, drifting onto the tram tracks while lost in her imaginary world. As the trolley bears down on her, a man sweeps her up, saving her life. At the same time, the distraught mother comes rushing out of a nearby hotel, grabs her daughter and slaps the rescuer's face.

The woman is Johanne Vik, who has been attending her sister's wedding. Her daughter tells her that "the lady" is dead. Johanne thinks Kristina is confused and means the babysitter she employed to watch the girl during the late wedding party, but of course, the child is not that misguided, as later becomes apparent.

The story shifts to the tales of various characters - a woman priest is shockingly murdered, stabbed while out on a walk one night. Adam Stubo of the national crime investigation squad and Johanne's partner, is bought in to help the investigation, gently probing the priest's catatonic husband and grown-up son to find an explanation for this apparently deranged and illogical crime. The decomposed body of a young man or boy is found in the river, which forms a separate plot thread. In this mix is a self-made industrialist, whose story we slowly learn and who we gradually realise is intimately involved in these and other apparently unrelated crimes that are leaving the police confused.

It is Johanne, still officially on maternity leave, who instinctively begins to connect the dots. In the middle of the book, in a somewhat artificial but fascinating side-section, she meets with an old American friend from her days with the FBI. Together the two women talk about hate crime, and Johanne (who is writing a thesis on the topic) begins to piece together the motivation for the current crime wave and the threat she perceives to her daughter.

This is an excellent book - in a couple of the previous novels in this series, the author has left things hanging in the air a bit at the end. This is not the case here. FEAR NOT is a fully rounded novel that addresses the terrorist and fanatical elements that plague our contemporary society, but elects to do so in an intelligent and engaging manner rather than by indulging in melodramatics. Having said this, the book is certainly not a dull lecture; to the contrary it provides plenty of conundrums that do eventually turn out to have plausible solutions. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, not least for its contemporary relevance in terms of its treatment of hate-inspired crimes, and very much look forward to the author's next. ( )
  Hanneri | Mar 31, 2013 |
I recently finished Anne Holt’s 2009 novel, Fear Not, translated by the always excellent Marlaine Delargy. What a fun ride, blending a puzzling plot with serious social issues. When the bishop of Bergen is stabbed to death late at night at Christmastime, her husband and son seem able or unwilling to explain why she was alone at night outdoors. Adam Stubo tries to sort out the high-profile case, unaware of the related cases unfolding around him. Because the deaths are explained as suicides or drug overdoses or inexplicable but unremarkable acts of violence visited on people on the margins, nobody connects the dots until Stubo’s wife, Johanne Vik, meets with an American friend who fills her in on a new kind of hate crime.

This is a deeply involving novel with a big cast of characters whose stories are skillfully interwoven. As in the preceding book in the series, Death in Oslo, things hinge on a coincidence of sorts, but it’s not at all hard to go with the story, which is absorbing. One interesting technique Holt uses is connecting each new scene with the previous one with a phrase, an image, or a thought. I began to enjoy looking for these little narrative hook-and-eye features. Another feature that seems a common thread in her books is the uncovering of a conspiracy, which in this case is fairly fanciful but an interesting way to think through the implications of religious fervor and bigotry. The final pages include a touching, if unusual, alternative depiction of religious faith. I thoroughly enjoyed this complex and well-plotted mystery.
  bfister | Nov 17, 2012 |
I discovered Anne Holt through the research I was doing for an article on Women writing Nordic crime novels. I thought her resume was interesting and her books would prove to be the kind of intelligent crime novel I like. I'm pleased to say that my hopes were mostly fulfilled. But one has to first get beyond the marketing screams that the cover is plastered with (Move over, Steig Larsson! 5 million sold! the Queen of Nordic Crime!...etc).

Fear Not is the 6th (?) book in Anne Holt's Adam Stubo/Johanne Vik series and the mostly recently translated into English. I usually like to start at the beginning of a series of crime novels, but this was the most readily available. It features the married duo of brilliant NCIS detective Adam Stubo (often called in to assist local departments) and criminologist Johanne Vik (an equally brilliant, but somewhat insecure professional who is apparently called "the reluctant detective" behind her back). It is Christmas eve and the bishop of Bergen, Eva Karin Lysgaard, has been found late at night, stabbed to death. Well known and universally well-loved, the crime is shocking and due to the high profile of the victim, Stubo is called in.

Without telling too much of the story, there is a fairly high body count in this book. At the halfway point people are still dying in different places, by different means. Adam is focusing on the bishop's death, the Oslo police on several other deaths, some only moderately suspicious, and Johanne is working on research into hate crimes. It will all come together.

Fear Not is an intelligent, character-driven, complex and satisfying crime novel. Vik, Stubo, their family (particular their young daughters), the Oslo detective Silje Sorensen, and other characters are rendered credibly and we, as readers, feel we are not only involved in the work they do or the crimes they are involved in, but in other parts of their lives as well. To Holt's credit, this 'domesticity' does not overtake the hard work, both intellectual and otherwise, of crime-solving, and there is also much thoughtful information given, in this case, to hate groups and hate crimes, much of it from the US, though Vik's research.

I look forward to chasing down more of Anne Holt's novels. ( )
1 vote avaland | Jul 6, 2011 |
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Für Ann-Marie, für fünfzehn gute Jahre der Zusammenarbeit
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Es war die zwanzigste Nacht im Dezember.
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Originaltitel: Pengemannen
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A drug addict dead in a basement, a young asylum seeker floating in the harbour, a high profile female bishop stabbed to death in the street. What is the connection? During a snowy Christmas season in Norway, criminal psychologist and profiler Inger Johanne Vik finds not only her husband and herself but also her autistic daughter drawn into the investigation of a number of disturbing deaths. Her husband, detective Yngvar Stubo, has been dispatched to Bergen to investigate the shocking Christmas Eve murder of a local female bishop. Meanwhile, in Oslo, bodies keep turning up, though the causes of death vary. Before long, Inger Johanne will discover something that will link them all.… (more)

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