Review

What Never Happens

by Anne Holt

Anne
Holt is a relatively new name for mystery aficionados in the United
States, although she is well known in Europe and particularly in
her native Norway. She has an extremely impressive vocational
background, having worked as an attorney, television anchor and,
most notably, Minister of Justice. She has also compiled an
impressive bibliography as a mystery writer, having authored some
10 books since 1993. WHAT NEVER HAPPENS was originally published in
2004 and, for a number of reasons, is only now hitting the ground
here in the U.S. It’s the follow-up to WHAT IS MINE and the
second installment in the Stubo and Vik series.

Adam Stubo is a homicide detective and his wife, Vik, a retired
profiler. They have an infant daughter together, and Vik’s
10-year-old girl, Kristiane, is from a prior marriage. Kristiane
has a behavioral disorder that doesn’t fit neatly into any
particular diagnosis. Stubo provides a nice balance, being almost
unflappable from a domestic standpoint. However, he is obsessed
with police work and finds it difficult to leave his cases in his
office desk drawer. Vik, for her part, hates being described as a
profiler, even if it’s what she does. The two somehow make
their personal and quasi-professional relationships work, if not
always well.

Which brings us to WHAT NEVER HAPPENS, in which Stubo is brought in
to investigate a series of bizarre murders. The victims are all
celebrities and theatrically posed. A talk show hostess is found
with her tongue cut out, mutilated and lovingly arranged; the head
of a political party is crucified, with a copy of the Koran
inserted in her nether regions; and an acerbic literary and
political critic is bludgeoned and stabbed in the eye. There are
absolutely no clues, and any connections that Stubo can make among
the slain only confuses matters.

What is most interesting is that Vik --- distractions of motherhood
notwithstanding --- realizes that the murders are hauntingly
familiar to her. This forces her to confront an incident in her
past that is her greatest secret, one she keeps even from Stubo.
Ironically, it is this secret that ultimately holds the key to his
murder investigation. Even more ironic, however, is that Stubo,
once he gets a solid suspect, finds that he has inadvertently
established the suspect’s innocence --- even as he becomes
certain that this individual is the murderer.

While the conclusion of WHAT NEVER HAPPENS is not a cliffhanger,
Holt does leave the reader hanging and wondering what’s
next.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

What Never Happens
by Anne Holt

  • Publication Date: February 13, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446578037
  • ISBN-13: 9780641931345