Norway · review · Translated

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett

HarperCollins, 2009

Harry Hole book 4

source: I borrowed the e-book from the library.

Nemesis is the second Nesbø book I’ve read (and the second in the series to be translated into English but fourth overall in the series), and like The Redbreast, the second half is better than the first half.

Nemesis begins with a bank robbery that ends in the murder of bank employee Stine Grette.   The murder and robbery investigation is combined, and Hole and his new partner Beate Lønn conduct an investigation parallel to the robbery investigation led by Rune Ivarsson, who’s the latest in bosses to get on Harry’s nerves.  Harry has returned from Security Service post in The Redbreast to the Homicide division of Crime Squad.

Besides the bank robbery/murder investigation, there are a number of other plots in this fairly long thriller:  Harry is still investigating the murder of his former partner Ellen Gjelten (to be continued in the next book, The Devil’s Star), Harry becomes involved with an ex-girlfriend who dies apparently by suicide but Harry doesn’t remember much about their last night together, and, finally, Harry is still involved with his girlfriend from The Redbreast, Rakel, who is in Russia fighting for custody of her child.  The bank employee’s murder and Harry’s ex-girlfriend’s apparent suicide investigations run concurrently, and there are some similarities between the cases.  I can’t say more without divulging the twists of the plot, but the cases echo each other.

Thrown into the story are a number of commentaries about revenge, whether it be personal or institutional (Harry thinks prisons are monuments to revenge and retribution).  Harry’s friend the psychologist Aune adds his commentary about not only revenge as a motive but also talks to Harry about why he’s self-destructive and why he’s reacting to Ellen Gjelten’s murder the way he is more than a year after her death.  If Harry were just an alcoholic loner detective without good relationships with both Aune and his partner Lønn, I think this series would not be nearly as interesting.

Like The Redbreast, this book improved in the second half for me.  The first half I felt a bit at sea, much like Hole did himself in the twin investigations into the bank robbery and murder of Stine Grette and the murder of his police partner Ellen Gjelten.  Nesbø is so good at providing his villains with very twisty plans which makes for a very interesting investigation to follow.

I also reviewed The Redbreast, Harry Hole book 3.

Other reviews of Nemesis appear in Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog and Eurocrime.

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5 thoughts on “Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

  1. I still haven’t read The Redbreast yet but plan to read it. When I first started reading Jo Nesbo, I started with Nemesis and went from there. I am hoarding Phantom at the moment.

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