Nemesis, by Jo Nesbo

 

Translated by Don Bartlett.

I have been having a bit of a Jo Nesbo fest recently, as part of a possibly doomed attempt to read all the shortlisted novels for the Crime Writers' Association international dagger award before the winner is announced in about a week's time. I had read four of the six books when the shortlist was announced, which admittedly helps a lot.

Although I had not read Jo Nesbo's The Redeemer, I won it at Crime Fest, so had a copy to hand. Life is not that simple, though. Nesbo's Harry Hole series is one of many to be translated into English out of chronological order – and in this particular case, it's an egregious crime because the impact of the "trilogy within the series" (The Redbreast, Nemesis and The Devil's Star) is ruined if you do what I did and read the third one first, followed by the first one. The Redeemer follows on from this "trilogy".

Nothing for it, then, but to buy Nemesis and read that first. And a gripping read it is, too. The character of the police detective, Harry Hole, previously rather patchy and chaotic, began to gel in my mind. I'm sure he looks exactly like Don Bartlett, the excellent translator of the series (though Don has more hair than Harry). Nemesis turns out to be a very exciting book. Harry is mourning the death of a colleague and has his suspicions (actually, convictions) of who is the perpetrator. However, after six months he has failed to find any evidence so has agreed with his boss to go back to his usual duties. His girlfriend Rakel and her son Oleg are in Russia, where Rakel is petitioning the courts for custody of Oleg. While she's away, Harry bumps into Anna, a woman with whom he had a brief fling some years previously. Anna is now an artist of sorts, and has created a strange triptych of paintings surrounding a lighted statue – Nemesis. Harry is soon investigating two crimes, in an intensely plotted and detailed narrative (you need to read every paragraph carefully to spot all the clues). There are some real implausibilities in the plot when the ending is finally revealed – not least the perpetrator of both the crime and the way in which Harry is manipulated in his attempts to solve it – but I didn't mind because by then I was won over to Harry: he's a flawed, angst-ridden, funny alcoholic – inevitably a maverick but one who in the main uses his brain and wit rather than his fists to demonstrate his independence.

First posted on Petrona, July 2009.

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This entry was posted in Books, Crime fiction, Europe, Norway, Police procedural, Psychology, Series, Thriller, Translated and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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