Knopf, ISBN 978-0307595850
May 21, 2013, 416 pages
In the latest Jo Nesbo book to be published in English, it is Christmas time in Oslo, Norway, but don't be looking for any holiday cheer. As shoppers mill about, enjoying a Christmas concert, a man walks up to a Salvation Army worker, pulls a gun and shoots the man in the head. Enter Harry Hole, one of our favorite screwed up policemen, but as usual it will not be an easy case. There are no clues, no apparent motive and no one able to give a description of the shooter.
But he is not the only one with a problem. For the hired hitman, this was suppose to be an easy job and, in fact, his last job. But things have gone wrong and he has killed the wrong man and now several more will die before it is all over. Hopefully Harry, always fighting that drinking demon, can stay sober long enough to figure it out, because the hitman, nicknamed as a child warrior in his native Yugoslavia during the war as the 'little redeemer' is a man obsessed with completing his 'mission'. Throw in a rape from decades ago that opens the book and we are in for one rather dark and disturbing holiday season.
I will admit that while I like the Harry Hole series, I do not love it.
Why is that? Not to harp on the issue, but I blame the publishers who decided, in their warped wisdom, to translate this series into English out of order. Sometimes it might not have been a huge issue but here I think here it was. If you have not read any of Nesbo books yet, you may be lucky. I think the first two are going to be translated soon and then you will be able to read them in order, at least to some degree. Harry is a complex character, with a troubled history that has made him the man he is, and to have to jump into the middle of his story, as you have if you have read the books as they were translated, is not idea.
Also, I must add that perhaps, with this one, 100 pages could have been cut from this overly long book with no negative effect. Sometimes less is indeed more.
But that being said, this is actually one of my favorite books of the series so far!
Maybe I am finally getting a handle on Harry. Maybe I just like the complex and convoluted plot, with some great twists and turns and a few scenes I will not soon forget. For example, I will never look at Christmas tree decorations in quite the same way again...you will have to read the book to find out why. Maybe it is also because, for the most part, Harry's addiction plays a smaller role in this than in some of the other books, and his 'issues' have become just a little tiring for me.
But there are enough other issues in this book to keep the reader engaged...junkies, rape victims, homelessness, greed, the horror of war and of course, murder.
And as always, we have the ever enigmatic Harry Hole, always an interesting character.
My thanks to Amazon Vine and the publisher for a review copy of this book.