Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series made him a literary celebrity. The series can be uneven but overall I have really enjoyed the dark mind and worldview of Harry. Even when he’s in far flung places like Australia and Bangkok, the bitter chill of Norway is always present. When he’s not putting Harry through the wringer, he has written some kids books and a couple of one off novels; Headhunters, which was a better movie than book and the breathlessly taut, The Son.
His newest non-Harry attempt is the story of Olav, a fixer for the drug and prostitution kingpin Daniel Hoffmann. He’s a fixer simply because he can’t do anything else. He can’t drive a getaway car, because he is capable of driving inconspicuously. Robbery is out, since he’s concerned about the psychic affect on the victims. No way can he do anything with drugs due to his “weak, sensitive nature” and poor math skills. Even prositution is out, not that he objects to that endeavor but becasue he falls in love too easily. Oh, and he objects to the “shaking, hitting and threatening” of women. As Daniels fixer, he finally gets the job that could spell his death sentence: kill Daniel’s wife Corine (who is purportedly having an affair) and make it look like a robbery. Once the fixer knows too much and about the fixer’s dealings, then he’s got too much power over him. He’s gotta go. Olav tries to mitigate that by killing the wife’s lover and not the wife. Problem solved, right? Wrong, oh so wrong. This sets Olav off on a course, trying to stay alive. He negotiates with the competition, The Fisherman, to take out Daniel.
Through this short novel, you learn Olav is a big reader. There’s always some quote or other or random factoid being spit out. It felt precious and forced. When later we learn he is dyslexic, it becomes clear how adept he is at telling himself, and occasionally others, stories. And that’s just what his life really is, stories, real and imagined. There’s supposed to be some kind of redemption at the end, but mostly I was left with nothing, no feeling for any of the characters. I had higher expectations for this book, but it just felt like half-baked filler. Better luck next time.