Thursday, January 1, 2015

Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo

It looks like I've been deep in detective fiction this fall/winter.  Indeed--that is the case.  Shortly before I fell into Louise Penny's work I discovered that of Jo Nesbo.  Nesbo is a Norwegian author.  In the past I have read Stieg Larsson's books (Swedish).  It appears that Scandinavian detectives/editors are generally pretty miserable.  Harry Hole is a rather desperate alcoholic who is however, a loving brother to his sister with Down Syndrome.  He also cares deeply for his father, but has some difficulty with that relationship.

Through all his drinking and drug binges Harry manages to solve terrible crimes.  Unfortunately, in most cases he leaves a trail of destruction on his way to the solution.  The plots are well crafted and move forward with a sense of urgency.  They are not, however, for the faint-hearted.  There is graphic violence and some relatively explicit sexual scenes.

 Hole solves murders through inspiration.  It can be hard to follow the clues that get him to the solution.  Sometimes it is as if his drinking and drugging are necessary to put him into a state that allows the subconscious to work.

Although Hole is not a character that you will like, he is fascinating.  I will finish the series and also pick up his children's books, the Doctor Proctor  series.

Reading these alternately with Louise Penny's books has been quite a study in contrasts.  The Nesbo's rough, grimy tales alternately with Penny's comparatively gentle, refined works have perhaps counterbalanced each other.

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