Caution – SPOILER ALERT – it’s impossible for me to not talk about what makes this such an entertaining read without giving away some major plot points.
It’s pretty obvious that Harty Hole survives being shot at the end of the last book since the front cover of Police makes it clear this is ‘The New Harry Hole Thriller’. That’s not why I’ve put the spoiler alert on this post. Whether Nesbo was seriously considering killing off his main man I do not know but he certainly seems to want to see how long he can get away without him in this book. It seems like half the book is gone by the time Nesbo gives up the frankly transparent ruse of pretending Hole is dead, by which time several policemen have been killed in typically horrible ways by a serial killer.
It’s great that all the characters are back in this tale and also that Nesbo is willing to sacrifice one of them to up the ante in the storytelling. Hole, working as a lecturer at the Oslo police academy, is again the reluctant hero for most of the story and makes quite a few errors of judgement along the way. Thankfully turning back to the bottle isn’t one of them although he does almost find other outlets for his self-destructive nature along the way. It’s also nice that his relationship with Rakel Fauke and her previously wayward son Oleg is seemingly mended.
As with most of his previous books the plot of Police is almost too complex for its own good but it is highly satisfying when it all comes together and the various red herrings that have been hooked along the way are put back into the river. The continuity from the previous novels is very good and so too are the little insights into Norwegian culture and life in Oslo. On the whole Police is a masterclass in misdirection from Nesbo and I think we can forgive him for brazenly trying to pull the same trick twice with making us think that Hole, Rakel and Oleg are all dead at the end of the book.
If I was being majorly critical I would have to say that the writer can be glimpsed a little too often behind the words in the way he has the story twisting, turning and pretending to be one thing while actually being another (the funeral that turns into a wedding for instance). However for me as a writer rather than a reader it was intriguing to see how with some expertly chosen ambiguous phraseology he was able to carry off this kind of literary shenanigans with unrelenting gusto.