It seemed entirely appropriate to me to hold off from writing about this book until I was next in Oslo. It is around minus 4 outside, so relatively balmy, and snow lies deep on the ground. The locals are excited to be able to go skiing and their mood seems to be a polar opposite of the gloom that hangs over the city. It is perfect weather for a murder mystery.
Nemesis follows directly on from Red Breast with a complicated tale about the investigation into one of a series of bank robberies in Oslo which involved a homicide – and therefore involves Harry Hole – and the apparent suicide of one of his old flames shortly after he has left her flat in a drunken daze. He treats his ex-girlfriend’s death as suspicious and starts an off-the-books murder investigation. Towards the end of the tale Hole himself is implicated in her death.
Characters from the previous book return and of note is ‘The Prince’, a crooked arms dealing cop, who is in fine form and it is revealed that he is even more twisted than we first thought; preying on young women when he’s not trying to stitch Hole up. Hole’s girlfriend and her son are mostly out of the picture as they are in Russia for their custody court case to ensure the boy can stay with his mother in Oslo.
Nesbo’s writing has improved once again and there are some great scenes. My particular favourite is when Harry gets information out of an otherwise tight-lipped criminal by threatening him at night with a PlayStation gun the man mistakes for some kind of high-powered handgun.
The plot in hindsight contains interwoven elements of a level of complexity that are hard to believe and that it is miraculous that Hole can figure out. It left me thinking that I had witnessed ‘New Sherlock’ deductive powers rather than the thinking of an alcoholic mistake making maverick cop. There are passages of exposition where Hole explains to other characters how he has arrived at these masterful conclusions which almost apologetically explain to the reader what’s going on.
I wonder how useful it is for me to write about these books as I am so careful not to give any spoilers; as usual with Nesbo there is at least one red herring, if not two, and an interesting twist in the tale’s tail end, about which my lips are sealed.