Elisabeth Sunee Rathke, Elli, is born August 10th 1976 at Ullevål Hospital in Oslo. She is the daughter of Dee Pornthip Rathke (born 1953) and Lars Rathke (born 1947).

In the early seventies, Lars meets Dee while on leave from a Norwegian merchant vessel in Bangkok. They fall in love, and he signs off the ship and stays in Thailand for nearly two years. The couple then marries and moves to Norway. Lars takes up again hos law studies and practices as a lawyer from the end of the seventies. Dee has no formal education but finds work as a shop attendant.

In 1978, two years after Elli’s birth, her sister, Anne Toey Rathke was born. The family now lives in a three-room flat in Lambertseter, a suburb built in the fifties to cater to Oslo's rapidly increasing population. Family life includes regular trips to Thailand. Dee speaks Thai only with her daughters; both girls are fluent in Norwegian and Thai. In 1982, the family moved to a house in the Nordstrand area.

Elli’s childhood is characterized by her father’s liberal view on life and her mother’s Buddhist perspectives. In some areas, her parents have conflicting views; in other areas, their opinions are surprisingly similar. Dee teaches her daughters to be good Buddhists, emphasizing a sound state of mind and the importance of karma. Dee’s approach to life is pragmatic; in Buddhism, any fault can be corrected through positive actions. Elli carries many of her mother’s perspectives further in life, though not all.

At the age of thirteen, Elli started karate. Late in her teens, she competes on a national level. Later in life, she maintained her techniques and fighting skills. In one incident in her late teens, Elli grows more aware of her Thai half. She sees things differently than many of her peers. Among her closest friends, this is no problem, but in encounters with other teenagers, she and her sister experience racist remarks, not least for their ‘mixed’ looks. During Elli’s last year in junior high school, a gang of girls plots to beat her. Eli grows tired of the repeated harassment and severely beats three of them up. The girl’s parents report her to the police, and Elli gets a mild caution, claiming self-defence. Elli’s closest friend from high school is Jenny, whom she still has contact with. Elli finishes High School at Nordstrand.

The summer of 1996 brings a tragedy to the Rathke family: Elli’s little sister, Anne Toey Rathke, is murdered. At the time of the tragedy, Elli is 19. Her sister’s murder marks Elli for life, influencing her choices and priorities later in life.

Elli reacts with silence and antisocial behaviour after her sister’s funeral. She concentrates heavily on her karate skills. After six months, to her mother and father’s surprise, she enrols for law studies. Her best friend Jenny starts social anthropology. For a year, Elli has been in a relationship with her fellow student, Arne Borre. The relationship with Borre, who quickly shows signs of being a conservative, posh guy, ends when Elli and Jenny pause their studies in favour of a trip to France. They stay a year, and Elli, as a consequence, speaks decent French. When she returns, the investigation into her sister’s murder is still fruitless.

At home, her parents struggle. Lars buries himself in work; he disappears for days in other periods. He also has periods of heavy drinking. Finally, Dee feels she cannot trust him anymore and asks him to move out. A year later, Lars dies in a speeding accident with his car.

In 2002, Elli started as a police prosecutor. The work constantly reminds her of the unsolved murder of her sister.

During her first years as a police prosecutor, she meets Mikael Sparre of the undercover unit. They click, move in together and get a dog, Zenith, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. When the relationship ends a couple of years later, Elli keeps Zenith. She has no contact with her ex, who returns to Tromsø soon after.

Elli is drawn towards the investigations more than the court procedures, and after a while, he moves on to become head investigator. She also undertook an ambitious amount of extra courses and continued police education. To her mother’s despair, Elli stays with the police, leaving her lawyer career.

In 2010, Elli investigated a serial killer in Oslo. Her police partner, Investigator Bent Harr, is killed during the case. Jan Nereng, Elli’s current sidekick, replaces Harr.