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The disappearance had generated headlines in January as well, but not such enormous public interest. Jens Hummel had no close family to push the police and the press. Only a grandmother left alone with her loss.
When the media grew interested again, Wisting had hoped that the publicity would lead to fresh information. The time factor did not necessarily reduce the likelihood of a successful enquiry. In fact, it could allow rumor and gossip to spread in ever-increasing circles until it reached someone willing to talk. Fresh reporting could act as a trigger.
However, it had been angled extremely negatively against the police in general, and Wisting in particular as leader of the investigation. Nothing emerged about what specifically the police could have done differently, but the article gave a picture of low interest and substandard work. The lack of results spoke for itself. They had not even managed to locate Hummel’s car, and recently published statistics on increased traffic control operations were used to support assertions of poor judgment and wrong priorities. Their sympathies in the case did not lie with the police who were faced with such a difficult task, but with the grandmother who had lost her only grandchild.
Wisting was used to criticism and normally it bounced off, but this time he felt differently. It was a reminder of their failure, and how the Hummel case had originally made him feel anxious, creating nagging sense of inadequacy.
‘Disappeared without trace has rarely been a more appropriate expression,’ Christine Thiis said. ‘You’d think with all our telecommunications networks, toll stations, taximeters and on board computers that we would be able to find something to tell us what became of him and his vehicle.’
A Man with Staying Power
William Wisting has got a lot of staying power and he needs it. His cases are complex and lengthy, often gaining new momentum after years when all seems dusted and done. At the same time the cases at first glance often seem to be rather simple, which isn’t true at the end. However, this is a main reason for slowly intensifying the thrill when reading.
Wisting lives in the Norwegian countryside, a beautiful coast area more than 100 km south of Oslo. So there are no big-city crimes, only petty crimes you may think, but that’s not quite the way it is. Murder is everywhere. Wisting, in his 50s, has seen a lot of it and he is tired now as it seems.
In short: there is another Scandinavian cop confronted with too much crime, too many evil people, too many lazy colleagues … His private life is devastated. He is lonely, although there are is a sometimes stressful daughter and a son who never appears. (No comparisons by me to any other fictional characters!)
Wisting is lonely and obsessed with his cases. When he starts an investigation everything will be asked and tuned upside down. Often there are hints, little aspects of some evidence that encourages him to dig deeper even if his colleagues are satisfied with the results so far or – even worse – if he has to step on the toes of anybody of higher rank in criminal prosecution.
Obviously this doesn’t add to Wisting’s popularity in the police force, especially when asking his superiors. Otherwise he is successful and closes all his cases definitely even if he has to dig deeply in the past. So he is … a good policeman.
Wisting comes across rich and successful people as well as welfare cases and even psychos. It doesn’t matter – as I stated before – that he lives in the countryside. Crime has no limits even here. People are cruel when there is a lot of money or their comfortable life is at risk.
Wisting’s wife died some years ago and he longs for a companion, but it won’t work out. There is a new woman in his life for some time – not long. At the end he resigns and thinks that he’ll stay alone for the rest of his life.
His daughter Line, an investigative journalist, lives nearby, together with her little daughter. So Wisting isn’t lost. Line is almost always somehow involved in his cases. She likes to start her own inquiries which tend to move her in the spotlight – the spotlight of the evildoer. More than once she encounters dangerous moments risking even her life when flirting with a psycho. (Be sure that her dad will always rescue her in the last minute.)
The cases are complex and need long investigations. The novels deal with lost of aspects of police procedures. As a rule all evolves rather slowly. (Don’t forget we are in the countryside.) Nevertheless it’s thrilling – and there is always a surprising ending.