The very first Harry Hole novel, Jo Nesbo takes Harry all the way to Australia to help solve a gruesome murder:
Harry Hole is sent to Austrialia where a young Norwegian girl who was living and working there has been murdered. Harry is definatly the outsider looking in in the police department, but Harry has the past and cases under his belt to be a great help to this case. Harry is able to find a key piece of evidence that links cases together that even the Austrialian police did not see but jsut as Harry becomes involved in the investigation the murder numbers are going to start climbing. There is someone out there that has a thing for young blonde women and no one is truely safe from this serial killer.
I so want to fall in love with this book and Harry, but I am not going to lie it was a struggle to get into this book. I found the over all pace of this book slow and at times fragmented as Nesbo goes back and forth between the murder investigation, to Harry’s personal life and Harry’s past that I felt there was not consistency in the book. Part of me even questions why Harry was sent to Austrialia in the first place. Yes there was a death of a young Norwegian girl, Inger Holter, but did the Norwegian police really think that the Australian police were incapable of solving it themselves? Not exactly a flattering depiction of the Australian police.
I had a hard time connecting to Harry as a character, I just couldn’t seem to get any form of connection to him. I find that often his emotions were down played, except for the ones that involved in his dreams or his past. I really think that this had to do with the slow beginning of the book that I really could not become invested in him as a character as there were times when I would put the book down and read something else. I guess I never put the consistent time into the book to get invested in him. Yes he has addiction problems and is portrayed as a somewhat flawed character that is trying to make a change, but this nothing new in this genre; it actually seems more typical now more than ever. I just never found anything overly interesting in Harry as a character.
I think that Nesbo does an amazing job of showing what it would be like for a Norwegian detective who comes to Australia. How he would act, how the detective in Austrailia would act with a stranger in their mist, all these points were well done. It was interesting to see how Harry dealt with cultural shock that awaited him. You can tell that Nesbo put a lot of effort into explaining the aboriginal cultures and history within Australia and racism that still exists there. It was almost like Nesbo put so much into this research and wanting to explain Australia (maybe because his target audience when this book first came out was in Europe) that the mystery, suspense and thrillers are not introduced till more than half way through the book. It almost felt like that Nesbo was trying to redeem the first half of the book where it was lack luster with the second half of the book where all the blood is spilled.
Overall you can tell while reading this novel that it is this is a debut novel and I'm undecided about continuing to read this series. I have heard nothing but great things about the later books in this series and I think that maybe Nesbo is an author that got better with time (which really only makes sense) but as a debut novel I only found this book okay at best. If Nesbo had not built up his name before this I would be willing to let Harry Hole go, but there may just be something here that I might be missing. I think people who have loved Nesbo and Harry will be disappointed with this book and I don’t think that people who are reading about Harry Hole for the first time will be encouraged to carry on.