Well done, Mr. Nesbo, well done.
I believe I read somewhere that Nesbo had written the previous book, Phantom, and this latest as pretty much one long-ass piece, so I was lucky to still have that book fresh in my mind. Not that it would be that much of a deterrent; this novel had more passages explaining what had gone on before than in any of the others. It was actually one of the things I liked about the books- I wasn’t punished for having read and spent time with them previously. But I digress. These two books are very closely linked and it has been a damn good ride.
BEWARE***THERE’S SOME SPOILERY STUFF AHEAD****
Nesbo takes an exhilaratingly different approach and employs a whole bunch of different POVs. And for the first 177 pages, none of them are Harry. You aren’t even sure Harry is even alive. What we get are more in-depth time with characters like Beate Lonn, Bjorn Holm, Katrine Bratt and Stale Aune, AKA the Boiler Room Gang, as well as our crooked cops, new Chief of Police Mikael Bellman and the burner, Truls Berntsen. There are also compelling appearances and thoughts not-so-key players, good and bad alike. I think that was part of the success of this installment, from the standpoint of being a very satisfying mystery and because it sets the table for what’s (presumably) ahead in the series.
Just because I feel this book is more contemplative that most in the series doesn’t mean that it lacks tension. On the contrary, this book had the best pacing so far, finally balancing internal and action without feeling forced. There are of course the trademark red herrings and misdirects galore, but they didn’t get on my nerves as much this time. Then he killed off a character that had me hollering expletives at the book and I seriously almost put the book down for good. But I plunged forward and got pulled back into the mystery and into the lives of these compelling characters. By the end, I had that strange feeling of needing to have resolution to the story (how many ways can Harry nearly die???) but still not wanting the book to end just yet. That’s quite a feat.