Dead Joker by Anne Holt was published in 1999, but it was translated in English by Anne Bruce in 2015. This is one Hanne Wilhelmsen book that shook me gravely, and the reason is not the murder mystery of the story, but Hanne’s own life, to be precise her partner Cecile’s life, again to be precise – her death.
The mystery is like this, chief public prosecutor’s wife is murdered, he is found in the room with the dead wife, she was killed with a souvenir like Samurai sword. When Hanne is struggling to solve the mystery, a journalist is also killed. During the investigation Hanne told herself this case will be solved in 3 weeks and on March 29, 1999 at 3 o’clock she realised the deadline she gave herself was up that day. But it was only 3 o’clock! That evening Hanne and Cecile would go to Karen Borg and Hakon’s house to stay. Hakon’s son Hans Wilhelm, named after Hanne would tell her there was secret. And soon Hanne would ride that secret alone late in the evening, a Yamaha Diversion 900cc. While riding lost in thought she would come across a country road with mailboxes, there was a particular name that would attract her mind, Eivind Torsvik. It was a name from Billy T’s report, the ear less writer/murderer. She would meet him, and yes, he is the one who would give the ultimate clue to Hanne to solve these bizarre murders. So in a way Hanne was right!
In the midst of all these Cecile was dying. She had cancer and she told that to Hanne the day before her operation. Now why she told her then and not early, why a life partner missed the fact that one of them is ebbing away? Enters conjugal life that has been lived long.
Hanne always had her demons. She kept her being a lesbian a secret for a long time from his colleagues, she kept her Cecile a secret, she is someone who experienced neglect, lovelessness, exclusion from her family, and that didn’t make her a strong rebel who couldn’t care less, the problem is she cared, and that is why over the 20 years of their conjugal life only a feast full people from her life came across Cecile. But Cecile wanted recognition of love, the appreciation from her partner that she is glad to have her in her life. But what Hanne gave Cecile was a name plate with their initial HW & CV. Hanne was scared that if people saw their names-2 girls’ names on the door they will know Hanne and Cecile a couple. Hanne couldn’t bear that. Or was it that Hanne didn’t love Cecile enough to give her the recognition, the status of her life partner! Because last time what my romantic googly misty eyes read somewhere, “love conquers all”. When one day Hanne was coming back home, Cecile was still in hospital after the surgery, recovering, Hanne seeing their incomplete declaration of love as HW & CV on the door realised how much it hurt Cecile! So only when the other half is dying another half realises her worth? When everything is super good, A-Ok, she is happy and smiling, why cant you love her then? Why to get the love and care and the recognition one has to die always?