Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘Oslo’

NEMESIS by Jo Nesbo: Book Review

Translators are some of my favorite people. Since reading Jo Nesbo’s books in the original Norwegian would be difficult (okay, impossible) for me, Don Bartlett has come to the rescue and translated Nemesis.

This is the third book I’ve read in Nesbo’s series featuring Harry Hole (I wish I knew how to pronounce his last name properly; I doubt it rhymes with mole).   He’s your typical Scandinavian detective–a slightly depressed, former alcoholic, renegade police officer who’s usually on the outs with his department chief but who manages to keep his job because he gets the crime solved. His reasoning and methods are unorthodox, but he refuses to accept pat answers and digs deeply into each mystery with the hope not only of solving it but finding out the criminal’s motive.

There are three distinct threads in this story, although they all tie together at the end.  In Nemesis Harry is waiting to hear from his girlfriend about whether she will be able to retain custody of her young son whose Russian father now wants the boy to live with him in Russia.  While the trial is going on in Moscow, Harry hears from an old girlfriend, a woman he hasn’t seen or been in contact with in some time, who insists they get together to say a proper goodbye.  And then there’s a series of bank robberies in Oslo, the robber’s M.I. looking like that of a famous bank robber who is believed to have died some time ago.  So what’s going on?

In addition, Hole has to contend with two adversaries on the force. One is Rune Ivarsson, the head of the Robbery Division that is heading the investigation into the bank robberies even though a murder occurred during the first one.  He’s an officious power-seeker who dislikes Harry and his nonconformist ways.  The other is Tom Waaler, a homicide detective and a much more dangerous enemy.  He’s the man who killed Harry’s partner in a previous novel, a man with neo-Nazi and drug-related ties, a very dangerous adversary indeed.  And he seems to have blindsided Harry’s new partner, a naive young detective who literally never forgets a face.

This novel is close to 500 pages, and there’s enough action in it for another hundred.  For a small capital city in a small, law-abiding country, Oslo seems to be filled with unsavory police officers and murderous criminals.  There’s also a lot of “doubling” going on–with brothers being mistaken for and taking the blame for crimes committed by their siblings.

Harry Hole is a protagonist who grows on you. At points in the novel I wanted to shake him and say, “What do you think you’re doing?”  But he’s real, sometimes painfully so, and the mistakes he makes come from his heart.  His feelings for his girlfriend and her son, both of whom are painfully aware that their future happiness resides with a judge in a foreign country, are strong and realistic, even as he sometimes acts in a way he wouldn’t like his girlfriend to see.  That’s human, and Harry certainly is that.

Jo Nesbo’s books are part of a strong series, and I look forward to the next one.  I’m hoping another translation of his novels is in the works and will appear on our shores very soon.

You can read more about Jo Nesbo at his web site.