I am a huge fan of the Stieg Larsson novels but was a little late to the party on those and incredibly upset to discover that Stieg Larsson passed away. I have a terrible tendency to become really enthusiastic about authors who are no longer alive and, unlike some popular musical artists, cannot produce anymore work postmortem.
Luckily for me, however, Larsson’s novels are loved by millions and my local library seized his popularity and created a list of OTHER Norwegian crime writers that Larsson’s fans might enjoy. A co-worker recommended Nesbo to me a while ago – specifically, The Snowman. At the time, I possessed a very long “to-read” list and threw it somewhere near the bottom. When I saw his name show up on the library’s recommended authors list, though, I knew that it was time to do a little research.
I like to start a series from the beginning. Even if you don’t necessarily need to read all of the preceding novels to understand what’s going on, I’m a girl who likes to follow the characters and plot from the very beginning. Unfortunately for Americans, the available translations begin with the 3rd installment, The Redbreast. The pictured cover isn’t the edition that I received from the library. This is what I had:
As previously stated, I do judge a book by its cover and this won me over immediately. Unlike with some other novels that I’ve recently read, I did fill myself in on the plot:
Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he’s been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway’s dark past, when members of the government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won’t wash away—and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind. For a conspiracy is taking rapid and hideous shape around Hole . . . and Norway’s darkest hour may be still to come.
So, not only do I get a Scandinavian crime novel but there are also some time-ins to WWII? And the main character is named Harry Hole? Whoa. Sign me up.
I enjoyed the format of the novel – each chapter is a different date and location. Nesbo hops around from present to past and, if I hadn’t read the summary of the novel, I probably would have been completely lost for the first 50 pages or so. And, while reading, I was dragged through the gamut of emotions – humor, distress, sadness, frustration, and happiness.
Don’t expect to read something that is literally just like the Millennium Series. I found that the parallels are mainly found in the fact that both authors touch upon politics in their novels and they take place in the same region of Europe. Nesbo is worth reading for his own talent and shouldn’t really be compared to Larsson in this regard. I look forward to reading the rest of his novels and seeing where they take our beloved Harry Hole.