As to whether the multifaceted and somewhat difficult Oslo detective fades into the sunset or passes tragically, you are going to have to read the book to find out. However, there are many other reasons to pick it up, including sharp characterization, brilliant plotting and a pair of puzzling mysteries, all of which play out against the background ticking of a loud plot. It seems that author Anne Holt (with an assist in the form of a fine translation by Anne Bruce) has saved the very best for last ... an exceedingly clever work that demands to be read in one sitting ... Things aren’t entirely resolved until the book’s very last sentence, but don’t you dare peek and spoil it all for yourself. It’s an ending worth waiting for.
Ms. Holt’s mystery—ably translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce —offers more than a tricky plot. There is also fascination in seeing Ms. Holt enter the minds of characters troubled and admirable alike—and of seeing the admittedly conceited Hanne grow less self-centered and more generous in her treatment of Henrik, who himself comes more into his own and even discovers the fulcrum on which the two deaths turn. If In Dust and Ashes is indeed the last we’ll read of Hanne Wilhelmsen, maybe it will also mark the beginning of our deeper acquaintance with a more accomplished, self-confident Henrik Holme.
As the two detectives pursue their respective assignments, the cases link in a surprising fashion. In this tenth and final book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, Wilhelmsen is as intuitive, and prickly, as ever, as Holt explores further the relationship between Wilhelmsen and Holme. For fans of Jo Nesbø, who has noted Holt’s primacy in Norwegian crime fiction, and of the genre in general.
Under Hanne’s guidance, Henrik gradually grows into maturity as a genuine humanitarian, while Hanne, despite her physical limitations due to a serious line-of-duty injury, digs into Havørn’s background, shedding light on right-wing European movements with their anti-Muslim 'criminal, capitalist conspiracy' theories. For Hanne and Henrik, both convincing complex characters, all suffering comes down to the 'good old sins': money, sex, and revenge. Readers will be sorry to see the last of them.
The 10th and reportedly last of Holt’s novels about Oslo police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen ushers in 2016 with news of a 12-year-old murder that might just be a suicide and a brand-new suicide that smells more and more like murder ... Despite some climactic surprises that aren’t, Holt closes her series with one of its strongest entries, combining a generous sensitivity to all with an unblinking portrait of a franchise sleuth who, pressed to defend the corners she’s cut, acknowledges, 'I’ve become more pragmatic with age.'