I’m mid-way through a book on the Booker longlist and a business book based on scientific research…but there are times when you just have to reach for some Scandinavian crime: pure, instant escapism. Jo Nesbo is the publisher-acclaimed Scandi noir king, and a massive bestseller with his series of Harry Hole novels. This, The Thirst, is the latest and we are on classic, fairly familiar, serial killer territory.
It’s a bit bagggy in places: there’s always that feeling that as a writer becomes more famous, their editor(s) become less keen to tell them in no uncertain terms where they should cut, re-order and re-write. [This is known as the ‘Rowling effect’]. So The Thirst is pretty massive and sags as much in the middle as my bag did when carrying it round. It is also, even by the standards of the genre, preposterous – vampirism, metal teeth, tattoos, blood, moles, 30 year crushes, buying bars, and a ridiculous ending are entertaining, but even as someone having read all his previous books, I struggled to suspend disbelief.
The characters fare a bit better – Harry is Harry, but Oleg (his step-son) is becoming more interesting, and Katrine Bratt is arguably the central figure for large chunks of the book, taking on the leadership role of the team and developing into someone a bit more three-dimensional. Others are a bit archetypal, but most are a bit more than plot-device cardboard.
It passed the time, and took my mind off work…so in that sense mission accomplished. And, especially as you get to the last 75 pages, the pace picks up and you want badly to know if your guesses (of which I had many) have been correct. However, it certainly wouldn’t be the place I would start: other earlier Hole novels are much more coherent, and some of the shorter non-Hole novels (Headhunters, The Son) are better, wittier and sharper. One to take on holiday – and leave behind.
BUY THIS: The Thirst: Harry Hole 11