The third Harry Hole novel and the first set in his native Oslo, has the downtrodden detective working security detail when the American president comes to Norway for peace talks. He’s still shambling and barely together, but his partner Ellen refuses to let him go completely off the rails. Then an unidentified figure with an automatic weapon turns up unexpectedly on the path Ellen and Harry are monitoring. They frantically try to get it confirmed that it’s Secret Service, but the president’s motorcade is seconds away from passing. Harry makes the decision to shoot.
It turns out it was SS (the Americans were notorious for not keeping the locals in the loop) and rather than being summarily fired, as he feared, he is promoted and sent to another department. Why? Politics. And if that had been the thrust of the whole story, I might have bagged it, but things did pick up from there. As he settles in to his new department, doing mostly paperwork and the like, he comes across evidence of a Marklin sniper rifle being fired out in woods someplace. Not only are those guns illegal (duh) but they are extremely rare and even more expensive. This leads him on a hunt for who sold it, who bought it and whether or not they will use it. Then the story becomes a densely packed tale of modern day neo-nazi’s and arms dealing, Norwegian nationalism and the fallout from WWII. I really enjoyed the sections devoted to telling the WWII tale and tying it it with the current events, but the book seemed over-long. And while he ultimately solved the case and was reinstated to Serious Crimes, Harry incurred a loss that will insure his continued role as hard-drinking and eternally damaged.