NEMESIS by Jo Nesbo
Harper; (January 6, 2009), 480 pages
Nemesis is the second translated adventure of Police Detective Harry Hole, but the fourth overall – the books and author are Norwegian. Harry borders on the stereotypical fictional detective – a loner with a huge drinking problem; jaded, cynical, but persistent with his own moral code; and he has some issues with authority, although he does get along with his boss. It’s a credit to the author that Detective Hole doesn’t come across as simply one-dimensional. Harry reminds me of both Arkady Renko and John Rebus, which if you are familiar with those two characters, is somewhat of a contradiction, although both are brooders, and at least for this reader Harry’s split personality can be disconcerting, i.e. passive vs. aggressive, physical vs. intellectual. Nesbo’s books, are long, rambling tales, and at times overly-complicated, but on the whole engaging and entertaining.
Nemesis opens with an extremely proficient bank robbery, conducted by a very competent criminal, who cold bloodedly shoots and kills one of the bank’s employees. Harry, paired with a new, (and interesting), partner, finds himself first on the periphery, and then running his own independent investigation of the crime. In parallel, one of Harry’s old flames is found dead in her apartment and Harry becomes centrally involved in that case also – even though the “solution” appears to well in hand. On the side, our hero is also still investigating the murder of his former police partner – which transpired in Redbreast.
That’s just an outline – To add to the mix, during Harry’s sleuthing he “partners” with a mastermind Gypsy crime boss – who may or may not be trustworthy - stumbles through his deceased ex-lover’s very active romantic life and complicated family history; “competes’ with a narcissistic peer in the police department; mentors his new young partner; makes a trip to South America; wrestles with his drinking; and attempts to provide emotional support – via the phone - to his current girlfriend and her son, who are in Russia dealing with legal problems there. There’s also a lurking unknown nemesis, introduced in Redbreast, whom Harry knows is out there wreaking havoc - but is unable to identify, let alone apprehend..
All of that should give you a flavor for the “complexities” of Nemesis or at least highlight the numerous sub-plots. There’s always something going on in Nesbo’s books, which at times can be too much, with Harry running willy-nilly across the pages and through the chapters – begging for a little more focus – or at least a time-out – allowing both Harry and the reader to catch their breath and collect their wits. I enjoyed Nemesis, but similar to Redbreast, I found it at times, over the top and overly-complicated.
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites