A Norwegian Chandler?

This is my review of Nemesis: Harry Hole 4 by Jo Nesbo.

In this fast-moving interweaving of two intriguing plots ( Harry Hole's task of tracking down a serial bank robber who has killed a cashier, and finding the killer of his former lover) nothing may be quite what it seems. I like the Norwegian setting – how could I not have known that "Oslo" means "the plain below the ridge"? The often very short scenes, flitting between characters and back and forth in time, with occasional blurring of dreams and reality, make the book very film-like, and in the process slick rather than moving.

So why did I find my attention wandering, so that I missed clues and had to search back for passages in order to understand what is going on? I think it is because of the tendency for fragmented, even staccato, scenes in which important points are often made very briefly, even implied. Presumably, to aid the suspense, you know that Harry has discovered something important and is taking action, but you don't yet know what and why. I also feel that many of the characters are stored in watertight boxes and brought out for brief mention e.g Harry's current lover Rachel with son Oleg, or his previous work partner, the murdered Ellen. Concerns about these could be more of a continual preoccupation in Harry's mind, so that you, the reader, also begin to relate to them and care about them more.

My main reservations are as follows. I often found many of the more important characters somewhat unconvincing e.g. the gypsy crime boss Raskol and his "niece" Anna. The dialogues of a very diverse range of people often seem too similar, probably the way Nesbo would speak himself. Some of the plot twists are just too implausible for me, not least the ingenious denouement which I clearly cannot give away.

Of course, Nesbo has sold so many millions that he does not need to bother to edit more carefully to improve the depth and flow of the novel. Also, some stilted or even unclear sentences made me wonder how much the book has suffered in translation.

I agree that it would be helpful to make the sequence of stories clearer. The first three available in English are: The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star. I believe the next three which I have yet to read are: The Redeemer, The Snowman and The Leopard.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars

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