tirsdag den 7. april 2009

Anne Holt, Madam President (2007)

Denne norske roman begynder i USA i januar 2005. Amerikas første kvindelige præsident, Helen Lardahl Bentley, er netop blevet valgt, og I færd med at aflægge ed. Første linie er dog næppe en del af den højtidelige edsaflæggelse: ”I got away with it.”

Hele verden følger naturligvis indsættelsesceremonien, og Inger Johanne Vik, profiler og hønemor til to, er bevæget over dette tegn på fremskridt, selv om hun havde forventet, USA ”… ville vælge en afroamerikaner, før de ville acceptere en kvinde.” Den anden kvinde i stuen, en bemærkelsesværdig skikkelse i kørestol, er sværere at imponere, men mere optaget af Bentleys målbevidsthed, at det er lykkedes nogen som helst at nå så langt uden nogen sinde at ´blive taget med bukserne nede´.

Kun fire måneder senere drager Bentley ud på sit første, officielle besøg, til Norges hovedstad Oslo. Jeg vil ikke røbe mere om plottet, som er en form for variation over temaet det lukkede rum, da jeg har lovet en spoilerfri anmeldelse. Makker- og ægteparret Vik og Yngvar Stubø kendes fra to tidligere krimier fra Anne Holts sikre hånd (Det som aldrig sker og Det der er mit). Det nye er, at Holt lader en tidligere hovedperson vende tilbage: seje, egenrådige og intelligente kriminalkommissær Hanne Wilhelmsen, lammet fra taljen og nedefter efter en skudepisode på jobbet. Inger Johanne har bedt hende om hjælp med en personlig sag, så for første gang mødes de to kvinder og lærer hinanden at kende. Hanne bor i en smuk, velindrettet lejlighed med egen husholder, den tidligere luder Marry, samt en rig, kvindelig samlever og deres lille barn. Hanne er en helt anden type end Inger Johanne, barsk og ofte kynisk, men noget tyder på, at det har været en rigtig god beslutning for hende at forlade politiet og hellige sig sin lille familie.

Miljøet er som sædvanlig Oslo, men i denne bog forstærkes indtrykket af en tryg lille landsby, og handlingen tager fart på selveste 17. maj. Så her er kræs for udlændinge, som gerne vil mærke, at de befinder sig i Skandinavien.

Dette kunne meget nemt have udviklet sig til en hårdkogt thriller om storpolitik og international kriminalitet, men Anne Holt formår efter min mening at få det til at handle om mennesker, især i kraft af sine interessante beskrivelser af nogle markante kvindeskikkelser. ”Vi kvinder og vores fordømte hemmeligheder, tænkte hun. Hvorfor er det sådan? Hvorfor føler vi skam, hvad enten vi har grund til det eller ej? Hvor kommer den fra, denne knugende følelse af altid at bære skyld?”

Bogen burde være en oplagt ”krimi for alle”, og jeg er spændt på at se, hvordan et engelsk publikum tager imod den senere på året.

Anne Holt, Death in Oslo (released later this year)
Anne Holt´s third novel in English begins in January 2005. America´s first female president, Helen Lardahl Bentley, has been elected and is just about to take the oath of office. The first line of the book is hardly part of the solemn oath, however: “I got away with it.”

The ceremony is followed by the whole world, and Johanne Vik, profiler and protective mother of two is moved by this sign of progress even though she had expected the USA “… would elect an AfroAmerican before they accepted a woman.” The other woman in the room, a remarkable character in a wheelchair, is less impressionable but more preoccupied with Bentley´s determination, her having got so far without ever being “caught with her pants down”.

Only four months later President Bentley goes for her first public visit, to the Norwegian capital. I am not going to reveal more of the plot which is a variation of the ´closed room´ as I have promised a spoiler free review. The partners in crime as well as in private, Johanne Vik and Adam Stubo are already known from two earlier crime novels from Anne Holt´s deft hand (Punishment aka What is Mine and The Final Murder aka What Never Happens). What is new in this novel is the return of former chief inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen, the willful and highly intelligent protagonist of Anne Holt´s earlier series (not translated). Hanne Wilhelmsen is now paralyzed from the waist down after a shooting incident on the job. Johanne has consulted her on some private matter so these two women meet and get to know each other for the first time. Hanne lives in a beautiful, luxurious flat with her own housekeeper, the former prostitute Marry, and her rich female partner and their little child. Hanne is very different from Johanne, tough and often cynical, but many things indicate that leaving the police to dedicate herself to her family has been the right decision.

The environment is Oslo as usual, but in this book the impression of a safe little village is enhanced, and the action begins on the 17th of May. So here is a treat for foreigners who are looking for a sense of Scandinavia.

This could easily have been a hardboiled thriller about politics and international crime, but Anne Holt has turned it into a story about human beings, especially by virtue of her engaging descriptions of some outstanding women. “We women and our damned secrets, she thought. Why is it like this? Why do we feel shame whether we have a reason or not? Where does it come from, this oppressing feeling of carrying around guilt?”

This should be a true ´crime for all´ novel, and I am curious to see what English readers think about it later this year.

2 kommentarer:

maxine sagde ...

Definitely looking forward to this one! I like the author, and the topic sounds great.

Dorte H sagde ...

Maxine, if anyone had told me about the plot I would probably have thought that this wasn´t one for me, but as I say in my review, she succeeds in making it a story about human beings.