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Scandinavian crime fiction is smokin' hot, and with good reason. Arnaldur Indridason's Reykjavik thrillers are exceptionally good. Henning Mankell's Wallender books have spawned both a very good Swedish tv series and the BBC/PBS version with Kenneth Branagh. Even Martin Beck came back years after his written adventures had ended for a high quality Swedish tv run. Helene Tursten's Inspector Irene Huss is in the midst of a successful written and tv run. Other popular series include Ake Edwardson's Inspector Winter and Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer. It's a deep vein we're suddenly mining.

Jo Nesbo may be the most ambitious writer of the lot. His Norwegian detective, Harry Hole, is an alcoholic, much further gone than Matthew Scudder ever was. In Devil's Star he's pursuing a serial killer Thomas Harris would be proud of. He's trying to hold together a personal relationship. He's haunted by his childhood and by the recent murder of a colleague. His arch rival on the murder squad is part of a clandestine vigilante organization within the Norwegian government. And so on and so forth....

Indeed, half the fun in the novel is just seeing if the author can keep all the plates spinning without them all crashing down around him. It does mean though that the book is very elaborately structured and the flow sometimes suffers as he checks in on his various plotlines. That said, Hole is a compelling hero and the mystery keeps you guessing. I'll be looking for the rest as they're translated.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Jo Nesbo Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Jo Nesbo
    -ESSAY: Jo Nesbø: ‘Tom Sawyer was my first murder mystery’: The Norwegian crime writer talks about his early influences, changing tastes and the age-limit for enjoying Hemingway (Jo Nesbo, 9/22/23, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Putin knows the power of stories. With a better one, we can beat him> (Jo Nesbø,17 Mar 2022, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: The Past Is a Foreign Country (JO NESBO, 7/26/11, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: LOVE AND MURDER WITH JO NESBØ: The dark prince of crime fiction on family, noir, and murder in the mountain towns of Norway (ABBY ENDLER, 11/19/20, Crime Reads)
    -PROFILE: Jo Nesbø – Special Delivery (Ian Hocking, September 11, 2008, This Writing Life)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview: Jo Nesbo, musician and author (David Robinson, 06 March 2011, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of Devil's Star (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of The Devil's Star (Karen Chisholm, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of Devil's Star (Norman Price, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Redbreast and Nemsis (Irma Heldman, Open Letters)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Karen Meek, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (The Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Susanna Yager, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Elisabeth Vincentelli, TimeOut NY)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Marcel Berlins, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Dennis Moore, USA Today)
    -REVIEW: of The Redbreast (Patrick Andersen, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Fiona Walker, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Tone Sutterd, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Nancy Eaton, American Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Mysterious Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (poornime Apte, Mostly Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of Nemesis (Lou Novacheck, BlogCritics)
    -REVIEW: of The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo (Jane Jakeman, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Redeemer (Sharon Wheeler, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of The Snowman (Complete Review)

Book-related and General Links: