Here's a look at Anne Holt’s compassionate, elegiac “In Dust and Ashes”; Charles Soule’s goofy and wonderful “The Oracle Year”; and Jon Talton's “The Bomb Shelter,” the ninth in a deeply satisfying series.
The Nordic countries continue to shower us with superior crime fiction. Case in point: veteran Norwegian writer Anne Holt’s compassionate, elegiac “In Dust and Ashes” (Scribner, 320 pp., $26).
This crisp translation by Anne Bruce is the 10th and final book about gifted, unorthodox Oslo police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen. Though disabled after a severe injury, Wilhelmsen continues to team with her eccentric protégé, Henrik Holme, on two cases. One stretches back years and another provides a chilling notion of future danger.
Jonas Abrahamsen spent years in prison for the murder of his ex-wife. When Holme uncovers evidence that Abrahamsen may be innocent, he turns to Wilhelmsen for help.
Meanwhile, Wilhelmsen suspects that the death of a far-right activist, Iselin Havørn, may be murder, not an apparent suicide. Her investigation takes her deep into the murky waters of Norway’s violent hate groups.
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The book is a strong, if bleak, conclusion to an already powerful series.
Pivoting sharply from sobersided Norwegian cops, let’s consider Charles Soule’s goofy and wonderful “The Oracle Year” (Harper Perennial, 416 pp., $21.99).
Q: Is it speculative fiction, mystery or satiric thriller?
This ordinary dude, Will Dando, wakes up one morning with predictions in his head — exactly 108. Some are earth-shattering, some are pretty lame.
Then they start coming true.
Dando and a pal create a website, releasing some predictions free and triggering a worldwide obsession. They also sell the more explosive ones for vast sums to those hoping to profit from them.
But Dando finds himself targeted by various shady operators — notably a twinkly, grandmotherly killer known as The Coach.
Soule, a prolific writer of best-selling superhero comics, knows something about fast-paced plots and quirky characters. The result: big fun.
On the local front: “The Bomb Shelter” (Poisoned Pen Press, 334 pp., $26.95) is new from Seattleite (and Seattle Times economic columnist) Jon Talton. It’s the ninth in a deeply satisfying series set in Talton’s native Arizona and starring sheriff’s deputy David Mapstone.
Mapstone’s boss has received a note credibly threatening his family unless the cops wrap up the decades-old, unsolved murder of a journalist.
(The story line is loosely based on a real crime: the 1976 car-bomb killing of Phoenix investigative reporter Don Bolles.)
Ex-history professor Mapstone is an excellent guide to local history and lore. Through him, Talton provides a wealth of engrossing detail about Phoenix then and now, in particular its unsavory criminal past.