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What Never Happens Hardcover – February 13, 2008

11 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Johanne Vik Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this complex, at times slow-moving crime thriller from Norwegian author Holt, her second to appear in the U.S. (after What Is Mine), Oslo husband-and-wife detectives Adam Stubo and Johanne Vik go up against an ingenious serial killer whose first victims are a talk show host whose tongue is cut out and a female politician crucified with a copy of the Koran placed in a delicate position. Despite the dramatic nature of the murders, Stubo finds few leads. It's not until Vik, trained as a profiler, uncovers a vital piece of information about the children of the talk show host that Stubo can begin to make headway. Are the killings random, part of a pattern or personal? As Stubo and Vik painstakingly work to uncover the truth, the author intersperses scenes from the viewpoints of the killer and potential victims. While this approach dilutes some of the suspense, it does mean readers get a rich picture of Norway's politics and culture on their way to a somewhat anticlimactic resolution. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'This follow-up to Holt's PUNISHMENT shows she really knows her stuff' - Daily Sport --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (February 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446578037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0641931345
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,314,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Wythe White on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Three problems that no other reviewer seems to have mentioned:

First, the two protagonists are not very likeable characters, especially the wife Johanne. They both keep interrupting one another in their conversations, which makes the dialogue often very jarring and disjointed.

Second, the author often writes what the characters are thinking, but it appears as if it were dialogue because their thoughts are always in quotation marks and sound like someone speaking, because they are articulated in complete sentences. This is, at best, a questionable literary device and, at worst, distracting.

Third, the nine-year-old daughter who has an undiagnosed psychological/developmental problem is another irritating distraction from the flow of the novel. Nothing is resolved about her. She's simply a peculiar, unpredictable interference.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Gripester on August 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having been mildly disappointed at the unfulfilled promise of Norwegian author Anne Holt's previous Vik/Stubø "profiler" mystery, "What Is Mine" (also published under the title "Punishment"), it was with some hesitancy that I gave the next book "What Never Happens" a try. My patience was rewarded: this book was far superior to the debut novel, and kept me hooked for the 2 or 3 days that it took to rip through the novel around my busy schedule.

The author has taken the police detective/researcher team of the last book and married them, bestowing upon them an infant and a dedicated family life, as well as a tight emotional bond that is frequently tested by the nefarious deeds it is their lot to unravel. Briefly put, the ghosts of profiler Vik's past return to haunt her as an ongoing series of celebrity murders seem to emulate a very specific group of cases she studied at the FBI Academy when she lived in the United States. The logical outcome points directly at her and her new husband as being the final victims in this gory reconstruction. The killer in this case is a hardened professional, who is literally paid to kill - but in what way she has committed her previous murders, and how she gets paid is a twist that is strikingly original for a novel like this, and makes an ironic connection to the unholy lure of the TV crime commentator's instant celebrity.

In short, I was impressed as well as relieved to know that the off-taste of the first book had been largely left behind, though there were still a few false notes. Vik's daughter from her first marriage is developmentally disabled - as a fictional character, an autistic or mentally retarded person's speech is one of the hardest things to capture convincingly, and I felt that Holt still has far to go on that path.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on March 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"What Never Happens" (also published in Europe as "The Final Murder") is the middle book of a trilogy about a Norwegian Cop (Adam Stubo) and a woman (Johanne Vik, now his wife) who studied profiling at the FBI. They met and married in book one and now have a child together, and a quirky ten year old daughter from her first marriage. In this the second book, Johanne has just given birth and both she and Adam are suffering from new baby fears and lack of sleep.

In a short period of time, four 'celebrity murders' are committed. A talk show host is found with her tongue cut out, a politician is found crucified to her bed, a critic/essayist is found with his pen in his eye, and a biathelete is found with a bullet hole in a target pinned to his chest. Vik ties these back to a symposium at the FBI where the same types of murders were 'profiled' and the last was the burning down of the house of the detective (with him in it) that investigated the murders.

How do you protect yourself from someone who has committed the perfect murder? Though the crime scenes are painstakingly gone over, not one clue as to the identity of the murderer is ever found. We know that the murderer will be coming after Stubo, but when and how is anybody's guess.
To tell anymore about the mystery would give away too much of the plot but it does seem to do what all second books do, slowly lead us into book three.

That is actually my only complaint about this book, and that is, it is really slow at some points. Now I don't know if this is just the problem of all 'second acts' or of this writer. I've read other Norwegian writers, specifically Jo Nesbo, and his books NEVER flag, but he is exceptional.
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