This reading group guide for Blind Goddess includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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While walking her dog, civil litigator Karen Borg stumbles upon the decaying body of a low-level drug dealer. Days later, notorious Oslo lawyer Hans E. Olson is shot at gunpoint in his home. Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen and Police Attorney Håkon Sand begin investigating the two murders in tandem and quickly discover a web of corruption, lies, and secrets that extend to the top levels of professional Oslo society and the Norwegian government—a discovery that may as well cost them their lives. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Why does Karen Borg decide to take on the case of Han van der Kerch, despite the fact that she has not tried a criminal case for eight years? How is her mental state impacted by her discovery in the woods? Were you suspicious of Peter’s intentions?
2. How would you describe Hanne and Håkon’s relationship? How does it change over the course of Blind Goddess
? Why does their partnership work so well?
3. In her interactions with her colleagues, Hanne is extremely private and shares little information about her partner, Cecile. Do you think her desire to keep her personal and professional worlds separate is driven by a normal need for privacy, or something more?
4. Håkon and Karen have a complicated relationship. Why doesn’t Karen decide to leave Nils? Why does Håkon wait for her time and time again? Do you think they will ever be together? Why or why not?
5. Hanne and Håkon discover that the drug syndicate is made up of both powerful lawyers and lowlife criminals. What does each party stand to gain by taking part in the scheme? Is it just for the money?
6. Discuss the author’s perspective on social class and the legal system, based upon the court’s contrasting treatment of Jorgan Ulf Lavik and Jacob Frostrup.
7. Throughout the novel, the author allows readers access to conversations and scenes that Hanne and Håkon know nothing about, even going so far as provide the perspective of the drug syndicate boss long before his identity is revealed. Were these techniques successful in increasing the suspense of the narrative? Why do you think Holt choose to grant the reader such access?
8. The one luxury item Hanne allows herself is her motorcycle, yet she hates wearing a helmet. How does this information serve to expand Hanne’s character? What other small but telling details does the author provide about Hanne?
9. What is the role of the press in relation to the police force? Why does Håkon decide to help Fredrick Myhreng, and how does the journalist ultimately repay the police force for their information? Are Fredrick’s morally questionable actions justified by his ultimate purpose?
10. The climax of Blind Goddess
takes place on a freezing cold, windswept night in the Norwegian countryside. How does the Scandinavian setting impact the action of the novel?
11. Lady Justitia is typically depicted as a blindfolded figure, representing the necessity of objectivity in matters of the law. Is justice in fact blind in the novel? Why does Karen choose to leave a statue of the Goddess of Justice as her parting gift to Håkon? Discuss the significance of Håkon’s statue and the position of its sword versus the police commissioner’s statue described earlier in the novel.
12. Blind Goddess
is the first novel in Anne Holt’s acclaimed Hanne Wilhelmsen series, but the author has stated previously that she didn’t intend for Hanne to be the main character. Was Hanne the most intriguing character?
13. Were you surprised by the final revelations of Blind Goddess
? What does this conclusion impart on the construct of the Norwegian government, the trappings of authority, and the law?Enhance Your Book Club
1. Research the history of Lady Justice, also known as Justitia, the Roman goddess of Justice. Bring examples of images of Lady Justice throughout history to your book club meeting and discuss the similarities and differences between the various figures that you find. Why is Lady Justitia such a powerful symbol in the novel?
2. Anne Holt is one of the most successful crime novelists in Norway and has been published in 25 countries. Learn and listen to some basic Norwegian phrases by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/norwegian.shtml
. Be sure to welcome your book club members to your discussion by saying Velkommen!
3. Consider preparing Norwegian specialties, like Stekte Epler (Fried Apples) or Risengryn Grod (Norwegian Rice Pudding), for your book club meeting. For recipes and menu ideas, visit www.food.com/recipes/norwegian