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The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

When a Salvation Army singer is shot dead on the street, detective Harry Hole has very little to go on, leading him to think that this is a professional hit. When it emerges, however, that the wrong man has been killed, Harry finds himself investigating a case that leads him to the former Yugoslavia. With a case that takes in the homeless, drug addicts and people who want to stay hidden, Harry knows that he has his work cut out to bring the killer to justice befor he strikes again.

The sixth book in the Harry Hole series introduces us to a professional killer known as The Redeemer. Through flashbacks, we find out about his early life in the former Yugoslavia and how he has become the man he is today. I liked how the author gave us this information about the killer, a direct contrast to the chapters when we see him slowly unfolding after he realises that he has killed the wrong man.

Harry Hole, once again, shows how much of maverick he is by investigating areas that haven’t been thought of by his colleagues. Taking himself to Croatia to try to discover more about the killer, he soon realises that there is more to the story than meets the eye, leading him back to Norway to investigate a series of crimes involving the Salvation Army that have remained hidden for years.

The Harry Hole series is one that I like to dip into every now and then and my appetite has been whettted for the next one.

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

516UpgT9p9L._SY346_Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case of a young woman who has been found murdered in her flat with a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star behind her eyelid. Having to work alongside his nemesis, Tom Waaler, does not appeal to Harry but as he is already on his last warning, he must overcome his hatred for his fellow detective and rouse himself from his alcoholic state when he realises that a serial killer is stalking Oslo.

The Devil’s Star is the fifth in Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and I can safely say it is my favourite so far. Drinking heavily after becoming estranged from his partner and still trying to come to terms with the circumstances behind his colleague’s death, Harry has been avoiding work like the plague. With the National holidays in full swing, however, and a skeleton staff in operation, his superiors have no option but to call him in to work on the serial killer case. Despite his shortcomings, Harry definitely leads a charmed life, as any other police officer would have been thrown out of the force a long time ago!

There were two main reasons why I liked this book so much, the first being the serial killer plot. I enjoyed reading how Harry worked out the pattern that the killings took as it showed that, although he is struggling with his demons, his investigative skills are second to none and the reason he is still able to operate as an officer. There were several clever moments in this plot, not least when the identity of the killer was revealed. There were also some moments that the squeamish would not enjoy!

The second thing I really enjoyed was the Tom  Waaler storyline which reaches a dramatic conclusion. This particular plot has kept me hooked for the past few books and I was pleased with how Jo Nesbo brought it to an end.

I have read that this series gets better as it progresses and I definitely agree! I can’t wait to read the next one!

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

When a bank raid leaves a cashier dead, Harry Hole is tasked with finding the killer after video expert Beate Lønn realises that the victim seemed to know him. Meanwhile, Harry has been invited to dinner at the home of a former girlfriend, Anna Bethsen, only to wake up the next morning with no recollection of what happened the previous evening. The major problem here is that Anna has been found dead in an apparent suicide although, with the gun in her right hand (Anna was left-handed), Harry feels that this is a staged murder. Soon, Harry finds that there is someone who knows exactly what happened that night and is attempting to pin the murder on him…

Nemesis is the fourth of the Harry Hole series and continues on from the previous novel, The Redbreast. There is one major plot line which will be spoiled if you read this book before The Redbreast, so my advice would be to read that one first. We find that the character of Harry hasn’t changed –  he is still drinking heavily although events in the previous book have certainly given him just cause. His drink problem is exploited in a big way in Nemesis when he can’t remember what happened with Anna. Although the bank raid was probably the biggest part of the book, the apparent suicide was probably my favourite plot line and the ending was ingenious.

My only concern with these books is that I sometimes struggle to remember who each character is as the plots are so multifaceted and, especially with the bank raid, I had to constantly remind myself who was who. I am hoping that, as the series progresses, I will become more accustomed to everyone and the role they play. There is one character, in particular, that once again showed his true colours and I eagerly await him getting his comeuppance!

 

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Finding himself carrying out surveillance duties after being reassigned, Harry Hole is quite happy spending some time working alone. It is not long, though, before he discovers that a rare high-calibre rifle has been smuggled into the country – one that is favoured by assassins. When a former Nazi sympathiser is found with his throat cut, Harry wonders if there could be a connection between the two occurrences. As the body count rises, it soon becomes apparent that there is someone out there, determined to mete out their own brand of justice. Will Harry be able to find out who he is before more bodies are found?

The Redbreast is the third of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and is definitely my favourite so far. Indeed, Jo himself, in a recent Q&A session, declared that this is his favourite too. The start of the book is quite harrowing as we are taken back to the trenches of World War Two where a small group of Norwegian soldiers are fighting on the side of the Germans. This section of the book was, at times, a bit confusing but all is explained very clearly in the concluding chapters and is essential in understanding the rest of the plot.

Fast forward over fifty years, and Norway is dealing with a new enemy – the neo-Nazi. Harry and his colleagues must try to find out if there is a connection between the rise of this group and the Marklin rifle that has turned up in the country. Just who is the target of the alleged assassination plot and which of the ex-soldiers is the would-be assassin? From the outset, it was obvious that one of the soldiers mentioned in the opening chapters would be the guilty party but Nesbo has done a good job in throwing you off the scent until the very end.

As seems to be the theme of all of these early books, Harry, once again, has to endure a personal tragedy and so, inevitably turns to drink. Although this case was, to all intents and purposes, resolved, there was still a major part of it that was not – I am sure that this story line will rear its ugly head in one of the following books.

In all, a fascinating read that was a solid mystery story and one that also taught me some aspects of World War two that I did not know too much about.

 

An Evening With Jo Nesbo

This week, I was fortunate enough to attend an evening with the multi-million selling author Jo Nesbo. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his most famous creation, Harry Hole, Jo is currently embarking on a UK tour, promoting his latest book, The Thirst.

In an interview with Jake Kerridge, Jo recalled how Harry Hole first came into being. When asked to write about life on the road with his band, he decided that the old adage, ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ was true and so used the lengthy flight to Australia to plan out the first Harry novel, The Bat. His love for his native Oslo is apparent when he speaks and so it was not too long before his books were being set in the Norwegian capital. It could be argued that Harry Hole is now one of Norway’s biggest exports although he does, according to Jo, have a rival in the Norwegian cheese knife!

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His new book The Thirst is, literally, one of Harry’s most blood thirsty cases, dealing with clinical vampirism. A serial killer is stalking the dating app, Tinder, in order to find victims whose blood he can drink. When asked if he’d consulted convicted murderers to aid his research, Jo revealed that he had spoken to a couple but had never been able to use anything in his books. He also spoke about the end of the Harry Hole series which may come fairly soon.

One of the most interesting parts of the evening was when he discussed The Redbreast  his favourite self-written book. This book, set partly during World War Two, had some of its inspiration thanks to Jo’s father’s involvement in the war, fighting on the side of the Germans whilst his mother was part of the resistance in Norway.

One of the biggest laughs came as he talked about his pride in seeing strangers on aeroplanes reading his books, unaware that the author was sitting next to them. He also is known for signing people’s books when he spots them on an unattended sun lounger on the beach. I wonder how many people have been furious when discovering that someone had written on their book, unaware that it was actually Jo’s signature!

The Thirst is available to buy now.

 

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

CockroachesAfter his success in Australia, detective Harry Hole is summoned to Thailand to investigate the murder of  the Norwegian ambassador. Found in a seedy hotel, known to be frequented by prostitutes, the ambassador’s family are reluctant to talk and are clearly hiding some secrets of their own. When Harry finds some vital CCTV footage, only for the person who gave it to him disappear, he realises that there may be more to this case than meets the eye.

After being slightly disappointed with The Bat, but being assured that the series gets better, I read Cockroaches with a touch of trepidation. Although I know that this still isn’t one of Jo Nesbo’s most well-liked books, I did enjoy this one a lot more as, unlike the previous book, there was more plot and less filler. The book starts with Harry, again, being sent out to solve a murder in another country, this time one that has the potential to be politically sensitive – a strange appointment seeing as, after events of the previous book, Harry seems intent on drinking himself into oblivion! It is clear that Harry’s personality is starting to emerge and, as a result, I liked him much more than in The Bat.

Dealing with the seedier sides of Thailand, namely prostitution and paedophilia, Cockroaches is, at times, an unpleasant read, and is occasionally fairly graphic. These scenes are vital, however, in helping you to build up a true picture of the circumstances Harry finds himself in. I did find that the plot was occasionally hard to follow as I tried to remember how each character fitted in to the story. As a consequence, I was nowhere near working out who the guilty party was but was happy with the explanation.

Cockroaches is a big improvement on the previous book and I am looking forward to reading The Redbreast next.

 

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

41bCxzTsx9LWhen a young Norwegian girl on a gap year is found brutally murdered in Sydney, Australia, Detective Harry Hole is sent from Norway to assist with the investigation. It soon transpires that this is not an isolated incident as the case is linked to a series of murders and disappearances across the country. It’s not long before Harry finds himself more involved in the case than he ever imagined.

Having dabbled with some of Jo Nesbo’s books in the past, I decided that it was time to start reading them from the start of the series after receiving ‘The Bat’ as a gift. It also seemed apt as this year marks the 20th anniversary of its publication. After reading it, I can understand why it’s had mixed reviews.

The premise of the story is a good one with an overseas detective being drafted in to assist in an investigation that seems to have stalled.  I did find, however, that, at times, the plot became lost amongst what I can only describe as ‘filler’. A fair chunk of the book is taken up with Aboriginal legends which did not really offer anything to the plot. I also found the numerous characters a bit confusing and found it hard trying to keep track with who was who.

That being said, I did like the lead character and ‘The Bat’ gave a good introduction to his back story. I found the second half of the book much more exciting than the first half, mainly because there was a little bit more investigative work taking place and there became more of an attempt to solve the murder.

I know the series gets better and I will be reading the next one.

 

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