Written by Jo Nesbo

Review written by Mike Stotter

RRP: £4.99 / £6.99
Released: August 14, 2014
Kindle / Pbk

I regretted starting this book on a Thursday evening because once the plot had me in its grip I just wanted to keep reading until the end.

This is the 9th book in the Harry Hole series and is the aftermath of the previous book, Phantom, in which Harry was shot twice by his long-time partner, Rakel,’s son Oleg.  I haven’t read Phantom and initially I was a slight disadvantage but I soon got up to speed without needing a huge infodump.  But instead of Harry, there’s an unknown man in a coma under twenty-four hour police guard in a closed wing of the local Rikshospital whom certain people hope never wakes up.     

One of them is the newly appointed Chief of Police, Mikael Bellman, Harry’s nemesis and his partner in shady business, Isabelle Skoyen, Councillor for Social Affairs at Oslo’s City Hall. They have smashed Rudolf Asayev’s drugs ring which had flooded the market with violin, a heroin substitute. Asayev has now conveniently vanished and Bellman and Skoyen, partners in bed as well as in crime, are going to make sure that it stays that way.

Against this backdrop, someone is killing the police.  They are being lured to past unsolved crime scenes on which they once worked on the anniversary of the crime.  One is kicked to death, another is hoisted onto a ski lift and condemned to go round in circles for eternity and they keep happening. Bellman’s team is floundering.

And so Harry’s gang unofficially reform themselves, But, oh, how they miss Harry and have no idea how close the cop killer is to them.  Gunnar Hagen, Bjorn Homs, Stale Aune, Katrine Bratt and Beate Lonn are determined to get their man. But one of them will die before that happens when they recognise a man on the tram whose supposed to be dead.

And Harry? No longer in the police but he’s got problems of his own. 

It’s a complicated story with many sub-plots which, as in previous books, Nesbo keeps racing along at a breakneck speed. The violence and bloodshed isn’t done with prurience although the body count is high. This is not a book for the squeamish.  Once again, it’s not a book just about nasty murders but also the political ambitions of people like Bellman and Skoyen and how they impact on other people’s lives. Power is their aphrodisiac and a means to an end whatever the consequences.

But, like a kaleidoscope, the plot will suddenly take off into unexpected areas.  But not every loose end is tied up and I feel that Nesbo hasn’t finished with some characters ye. They and Harry are destined to meet again as Harry feels that he’s finally achieved happiness in life.

Nesbo really understands how to create an elaborate involving story and skilfully combining the multi-layered elements to create an astonishing climax. Also, he isn’t afraid to kill off characters whom the reader has followed through previous books which is a brave decision.  I wish more authors would do this as often the characters don’t change and they start to become stale.

Already looking forward to next Harry Hole story.

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