This is the first in a series of books by Joe Nesbo on his private detective Harry Hole, although there were times in the book when he was called Harry Holy or Hole or Holy. I was expecting HH since a lot of characters like to refer to themselves by acronyms.
In this book, Hole is overseeing a murder investigation of a minor celebrity back home. He is told just to observe and stay out of trouble. He does offer some valuable assistance since he is playing the role of a brilliant detective that can solve this murder case.
The case seems to turn to the point that there may be a serial killer involved since there is a pattern of him raping and killing women. The book moves along with Hole asking questions of people who he thinks are suspects. The subplot of the book seems to move towards relationships he has had in the past and the present with Kristin and Birgitta.
During the book, you will see signs of Hole drinking a lot and having a drunken tirade. If you’re a fan of Ken Bruen for example, this might appeal to you but to me, it’s more of a turnoff. The grandfather of this type of detective, who is Mat Scudder from Lawrence Block does a much better job with this.
Harry’s personal life seems to play a big role in the story. For me, it was too much of a role since much of it had little or no relation to the case. The relationship between Birgitta didn’t seem very strong to me and I was amazed that they had any kind of relationship at all after Hole’s drunken tirade.
The bigger problem for me in the story was when Birgitta was willing to let herself be bait for this serial killer. I find that hard to believe no matter what her feelings are for Hole. I mean, there must be at least one woman on the police force that can do this.
That whole scene would have worked for me if Birgitta was kidnapped. If that happened, it would have made the book seem more believable to me. I felt that this flaw really brought the book down for me as a result of this.
I am willing to give credit where credit is due and say that the last 60 or so pages of this book was superb and intense. At that point, the book was extremely hard to put down and I can’t think of any kind of mystery that was intense as this was.
With all that said, I would say that I would have given this book more than five stars if it weren’t for the flaw. In any case, I’ll give this book 4 stars.