Monday, 10 November 2014

Reading the detectives 2: Harry Hole

'Harry Hole' isn't the title of the book I recently read - that's Police, and it's by Jo Nesbo. But Harry Hole is the star, even though he doesn't actually appear till quite a long way into the book. He's one of the most charismatic detectives in the history of crime writing, and even though he doesn't actually appear in this book till a good way through the book, he's without doubt its star.

Harry Hole is tall, thin and blonde, with lots of scars and burning blue eyes (so not unlike Nesbo himself, who, unlike Hole, is unfairly talented not just as a writer, but as a footballer, musician and financial wizard). Hole is an alcoholic and a phenomenally talented investigator, whose addictive personality means that he'll do whatever it takes to catch a killer. He's deeply in love with a lawyer called Rakel Fauke, and she loves him too, but understandably, she gets a bit fed up of being put in mortal danger whenever he's on a case, so theirs is a bit of an on-off relationship.

In this book, the tenth of the series, there's a serial killer whose victims are police officers. If you've read a Harry Hole novel, you'll know that Jo Nesbo is a great teaser. He is constantly leading  Harry and/or the reader up the garden path - a path with endless twists and turns and some very nasty characters lurking round every bend. The tension builds until you know that something really, REALLY terrible is going to happen - and then sometimes he lets you off the hook. But be wary if this happens, because pretty soon, just as you think you can breathe a sigh of relief, something much, much worse happens. There are endless false leads, and you will very rarely have a clue as to the real culprit until the last page.

As in many of the other books, Nesbo is ruthless about killing off characters we've grown fond of (in some very gruesome ways, too). He does this, and then he sets it up so you think another one's about to get the chop - but when you turn the page to start the next chapter, you find that lo and behold, it was yet another tease.

But there's an extra tease this time. Nesbo has hinted that this may well be the last Harry Hole book. Well, if what happens on the last page isn't an unmistakable hook, then I'm a best selling author with a Hollywood film in the pipeline. And it's a really, really mean hook at that. (And come on, Mr Nesbo: haven't any of those clever policemen - particularly Stale Aune, the psychologist - remembered that Valentin is still on the loose? Really?)

If you like detective novels with some extremely dark corners, then you should try the Harry Hole books. But be warned - they're addictive. And really not good if you have a tendency towards insomnia. 


  1. Thanks for the recommendation, Sue

  2. Ah, the insomnia problem. You wake around three, you reach out for a book and then you start to read "for a short while. " Ha ha! With books like these, it seems impossible to stop..

  3. I remember one night I'd been reading something disturbing - not this - and I woke up feeling completely disorientated, with lights flashing and everything,
    Turned out to be my electric toothbrush, which I'd left on charge!

    1. Like this! (Though not that you felt disorientated, etc,)

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