Nemesis – Jo Nesbo

Three books in and I can say without doubt now that I am a Jo Nesbo fan and will probably end up reading all his books. To be honest I was probably a fan after reading the first chapter of The Snowman but it’s good to still feel the same a few books in. Normally crime thrillers wouldn’t be my first choice- but these books at 600+ pages are really hard to put down. I’m also quite fussy with chunksters, often preferring shorter books so am especially impressed at how easy these are to get through.

So Norwegian police inspector Harry Hole returns in Nemesis, the second in the series of books available in English. I read the first, The Redbreast earlier in the year (that was my least favourite of the three so far) and Nemesis sits in the middle. It will be interesting to see how the next two go and if the tempo changes at all. The fifth in the series, The Snowman, seemed to have a more dramatic style, I’m wondering if there will be a gradual build up towards that.

Hole is a struggling alcholic with unorthodox methods and a high crime solving success rate. His peers are not without their faults, minor and major and on the whole they tolerate Harry only because they have to.

The parallel cases taking up Hole’s attention in Nemesis are a bank robbery/murder and the murder of Anna, an old flame of Harry’s. To complicate things (there always seem to be complications in Harry Hole’s life) Harry finds himself implicated in one of these murders.

I’m noticing a few patterns now in the series, one being that Harry becomes personally involved in the murders or with the murderers he is investigating and the second that he has an especially skilled female officer assisting him in his cases. I’m not sure how realistic the personal involvement each time is but I don’t mind, it makes for an exciting read.

Hole’s assistant in Nemesis is Beate, young and talented, she has the ability to remember every face she has ever seen. Her father had been a police officer before being killed in the line of duty and it’s not hard to figure out that this will be relevant at some point in the story.

There are a host of other characters including a cunning inmate with knowledge crucial to the case and an ongoing storyline that started in The Redbreast. On that point I would recommend starting with The Redbreast for anyone thinking of trying the series, each book has a separate case and is quite readable on its own but there are characters that reappear with spoilers if the books are read out of order.

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

2002, 695 pages


6 responses to “Nemesis – Jo Nesbo

  1. Looks like we are all on the Jo Nesbo bandwagon! I’m thinking of reading The Leopard but had to return the book to the library before I got to it. Maybe I’ll start with the Leopard and work backwards. what do you think?

    I’ll see what I feel about his books and decide if he is my favourite. 😉 Thanks for the review.

  2. JoV – I saw The Leopard on your sidebar! I’m saving that until I’ve caught up on the earlier ones. One of my friends at work who leant me Nemesis much prefers his earlier books but of the three I’ve read I enjoyed The Snowman the best so not sure where to recommend you start. Maybe you could start with The Leopard and if you like that go back to the beginning maybe?

    Either way happy reading – I’ll look out for your thoughts!

  3. I read snowman liked it but not be back to him for a while I like harry hole although at times I was remind of rebus for some reason ,all the best stu

    • Stu – It’s funny as I’m not blown away by the Harry Hole character but still really like the stories. I haven’t read any of the Rebus series but was looking at the first of the Henning Mankell books in Waterstones today and the Wallender character sounded like he had some of the same traits as Harry Hole- perhaps I will try the first in that series at some stage..?

  4. I have only read Nesbo’s the devil’s star, but I can see why you like him so much. When I gave my teaching colleague the book after I finished it, he went ahead and read all the rest of Nesbo he could find. Personally, I think Jo Nesbo is much better than Steig Larsson, but I haven’t read more of his work yet. One of those ‘a little violence goes a long way’ kind of things for me. However, I also want to try reading Mankell who is also supposed to be a great Scandinavian crime writer. Have you read anything by him?

  5. Bellezza – we must be on the same wavelength (again 0:)) as I just replied to Stu above before reading your comment. I think I will try Mankell at some stage as he seems to be very popular with a lot of books to catch up on which could be fun! Its funny you mention about your teaching colleague reading the series as one of my work colleagues leant me Nemesis and he had read the whole series in a few weeks – totally hooked!

    I can understand the ‘a little violence goes a long way’ kind of thing. I don’t think I could read one after the other of the books,but more of a sure thing when the mood strikes.

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