Jo Nesbø looks like Jason Statham. Just wanted to get that out there right away.
This is apparently the third book in the Harry Hole series – the first two, however, have yet to be published in the US. Harper has published the fourth and fifth books, however, and I’ve got a copy of Nemesis sitting on my to-read shelf right now. I actually won these two books from a contest at The Olive Reader, making them the third contest win and third/fourth books I’ve gotten from them… which is AWESOME. Best part is, this book was actually really quite good (as opposed to sort-of good – The Shadow Year – and not very good at all – Totally Killer).
I love a good detective/mystery series. Chalk it up to my youthful adoration of Holmes, perhaps. Tana French is one of my favorite authors, Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy is one of the best ever, I love Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Family, and I’m starting to get into Rebus. If you put together a good police procedural mystery, chances are I’ll enjoy it – but there has to be something else.
To be honest, I didn’t love this book at first because of the “something else”. It took me a while to get onboard with the stuff from the past. There’s a whole chunk of the book, towards the beginning (all first-half – well, almost all), that takes place on the Eastern Front and in a hospital during the second World War. It’s all pretty fascinating and everything – and very well-written – but as this is an American’s first introduction to Harry Hole, I really wanted to be spending more time with him.
That said, I thought once we did start spending time with Hole, it was time well spent. He hasn’t come as fully formed into my head as some of the other European detectives who I mentioned earlier – but I chalk that up to the strange introduction I’ve received. The plot twists and turns a couple of times and keeps you on the very edge of figuring it out… but never lets you fully get there until Hole himself does. Its that nagging “something isn’t right about this” that keeps your mind working throughout the novel and I liked that, a lot.
Did I think that the romantic subplot was a little clunky and ungainly? Sure. I also felt like there was (well, I knew there was) a past that I was missing. I really look forward to Harper publishing the first two Hole novels so I can revist the earlier days, see what some of these references mean, etc.
Rating: 4 out of 5. This is a great novel – its a bit of a beach-read type story (as most detective novels seem to be, exception: Tana French) but its a smart one. I look forward to Nemesis and the further adventures of Harry Hole. I wouldn’t call Jo Nesbø “the next Steig Larsson” (as some have said) but I definitely think he’s a cut above most other mystery/thriller writers.