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Harry Hole is back with more bleakness: William Saunderson-Meyer reviews the latest Jo Nesbo – The Thirst

Published in the Sunday Times

The ThirstThe Thirst
Jo Nesbo, Harvill Secker
*****

It’s been four years since we last saw Harry Hole, the conflicted but brilliant Oslo detective. Now he is back in harness, chasing a particularly vicious serial killer.

It’s not what Harry had wanted. He had found himself a comfortable new niche, imparting his wisdom to the next generation at the police academy. It was meant to be a restorative change of pace.

As the pressure had eased, so too had Harry’s nightmares. The night-time visits from the murder victims and their demonic killers were less frequent and intense.

The low-stress job was only part of the explanation. The main reason was Rakel, his new wife, and the unexpected blessing of a love he had never expected to find.

Then the killings had started, all women who were using a dating app. The public was terrified, as details of the killer’s gruesome methods leaked. The media was going berserk and the politically ambitious head of the Oslo police had to use a bit of professional blackmail to compel the reluctant Harry to join the investigation.

The Thirst is Nesbo at his bleakest best. The plot is tantalisingly intricate, the characters finely drawn.

Harry, as in the previous 10 novels in the series, is satisfyingly complex. Perhaps sometimes too complex for comfort, as when he reflects upon the different ways he has of awakening.

One is waking alone, which may be accompanied by a sense of freedom, or by an awareness of what everyone’s life really is: a journey to lonely death. Then there are variations of awakening with angst.

The rarest, for Harry, is awaking with a feeling of contentment. “This ridiculous happiness … was a new type of waking up for Harry Hole.”

Needless to say, the thirst threatens to destroy Harry’s new happiness forever. – William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

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