Sunday, September 28, 2014
Photo: Paperback cover of the book, from this website.
Yet another great Nordic Noir. Nesbo is right up there with Mankell and (in the first two books of the series, anyway) Steig Larsson. Mankell is a bit more abruptly gritty (still can't forget he had his main character make a brief mention of soiling himself) and Larsson was a bit more character-driven, but all three are giants in the genre, and deserve to be.
In this one, Hole is face-to-face with yet another ex-girlfriend (he's got lots of those, as he's a work-obsessed alcoholic), who apparently still holds some sort of grudge against him. But she's beautiful, and Hole may, or may not, have had something to do with her dying. This happens further into the book than you'd think. Nesbo handles that well, though I suspect that a lesser writer wouldn't. And Nesbo is successful enough to ignore the adage of agents: The crimes need to happen right away.
One crime that does happen right away is a bank robbery. There've been more than a few of those over the years, with maybe the same M.O.--but maybe not. Throw in a feud with another cop and an infamous prisoner related to the woman described above, and there's much going on here.
As with many Nesbo books, this one seems to end two or three times before it finally does, which became a little distracting for me here, but not overly so. There was more to solve, and it's right that crimes like these don't get neatly solved and gift-wrapped quickly, like they do on TV and in the movies. Plus, there's the slightly strung-together storyline with his on-and-off current girlfriend and her son to deal with. (They'll come into play big-time in Nesbo's Phantom, to be reviewed soon.)
The crimes themselves shouldn't throw an established reader of this genre. I had the bank robbery and the ex-girlfriend's demise figured out almost right away, though I didn't catch on to the signature in the emails. (This is rather embarrassing, as one should always be able to explain the book's title in relation to the story.) That is, I knew what had exactly happened, and by whom, but with no proof whatsoever. Nesbo's books work well that way: For all the good writing, the characterization and description, it all boils down to a procedural. Watching how Hole solves it all and gets the evil-doers despite himself and his flaws is the whole ride.