Well this book put me through the wringer. After the bloated and disappointing The Leopard, this novel, the 9th in the Harry Hole series, get back to the heart of what makes Harry such a compelling character. All his strengths and faults (some of which are the same) are on fine display here.
Harry lands in Oslo a different man from the broken one that left three years ago, but what he is there to do will take him down to the very depths once again. You see, Oleg, Rakel’s son, has been accused of murder. Even though the evidence against the boy is damning, Harry is just not going to let that pass. He just cannot believe that his surrogate son has it in him.
This more emotional tale is told not only from Harry’s point of view, but also from Gusto, the dying young man that Oleg is accused of killing, Gusto’s foster brother and surprisingly effective, a frantic mother rat trying to get to her young. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t know how Nesbo did it, but he got a lot of good mileage out of that.
People from Harry’s past make appearances, the most central of course being Rakel and her son. As much as I personally dislike her, she is, in Harry’s mind, the love of his life. His desire for redemption through this love and the responsibility he feels he has for Oleg powers this story on through to it’s heartbreaking conclusion. Sure there’s great detective skills on Harry’s part, more police and city government corruption and an interesting depiction of the drug trade, but it’s the personal side of Harry’s story that really kept me turning the pages.