Nemesis (Harry Hole #4), by Jo Nesbø

Four stars

Nesbø continues to dazzle with his wonderful Harry Hole series, in this fourth novel. When a single individual enters a bank and takes the female teller hostage, demands are made to empty an ATM full of money. Using the hostage to disguise their voice, the robber offer an ultimatum that cannot be completed in the specified time, and the teller is killed. With the Robbery Division unable to make any progress on the case, it is sent to Harry Hole and video evidence expert, Beate Lønn as a murder investigation. With Hole’s girlfriend, Rakel, in Russia fighting for custody of her son, Harry agrees to have dinner with a former lover, Anna, who reappears out of the blue and wants a platonic chat. Waking up at home the next morning with all the signs of a massive hangover, Hole is shocked to learn that Anna apparently committed suicide the night before. However, some of the evidence points at a potential murder, covering up to confuse everyone. Keeping this under wraps, Harry engages in an off-the-books investigation and reaches out to a member of Anna’s family, who is in prison for previous bank robberies, promising to solve her murder if insight on the bank robberies can be provided. As Lønn discovers the intimate closeness of the robber and teller through analysis of the video surveillance, she surmises that they must have known one another. When further heists are completed and no teller is harmed, Hole and Lønn agree that this first robbery held a special component; the teller. After heading around the world to follow a lead in South America, Hole and Lønn appear to close the case when they find a confession in a suicide note from the teller’s brother-in-law. Returning to Norway, Hole is contacted through anonymous email servers by someone calling themselves S2MN. All traces point back to Hole, who cannot remember what happened with Anna, though he is fairly certain that he is innocent. However, fellow police officer Tom Waaler trips on some evidence that could implicate Hole and a warrant is issued for our protagonist’s arrest. Hole dodges his colleagues to clear his name and trips on a key piece of evidence staring him in the face. All the while, someone by the name of the Prince has Hole in his crosshairs, killing those who might be able to uncover the truth behind Hole’s former partner’s murder. Nesbø offers the reader a wonderful omniscient view into this and all other storylines in this jam-packed novel with a final chapter that may bring Hole and the Prince into a massive stand-off. A sensation second book of an imbedded trilogy within the larger Harry Hole series. 

There is no question that Nesbø is a sensational writer. That his books can be so addictive in a language other than the original adds to their greatness. The Harry Hole character is highly complex on many levels, from his alcoholism through to his past lovers and struggles with work. Nesbø offers ongoing insights into the dark world of Hole’s life and his attention to detail to solve the most complicated of cases. Building on this and other periphery characters within Hole’s sphere, Nesbø offers detailed character development that will only draw the reader closer to the protagonist. The reader finds themselves fully involved in the plot and the multiple storylines on offer. The reader must pay close attention in order to sift through the busy narrative and Hole’s varied activities. I find myself wanting to reach for the next novel to discover how the Prince storyline ends, or if it will continue for the rest of the series.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for another wonderful novel. You are a master, no matter what language in which you are read.