Golden Fox (Courtney #7), by Wilbur Smith 

Nine stars

Smith continues to top his previous novels in this instalment of the Courtney series, with Isabella the primary focus. Living with Shasa in London during his time as South African ambassador, Isabella meets and falls in love with Ramon. Unbeknownst to her, this ‘chance’ meeting is anything but luck, as the ‘Golden Fox’ is a close relative of Fidel Castro and a high-ranking official within the KGB. When Ramon impregnates Isabella, all is kept secret with a promise to announce it to the Courtney clan soon. However, the birth of young Nicholas begins the true nature of the plan, as Ramon and the baby go missing, leaving Isabella highly distraught. When she is sent a video of her son’s close-drowning and threats of future mutilation as well as death, Isabella will do whatever is asked of her to bring her son back safely. The KGB and the localized African cell wait for Shasa to return to South Africa and his next posting, as head of Armscor, which is responsible for the country’s nuclear weapons program, as well as build-up of toxic gas for use in the border wars. As Isabella leaks sensitive information to her handlers and fuelling the radical wing of the ANC as it seeks to derail the apartheid government. However, as Isabella learns, the organisation runs deeper than she thought and her own family may have weak links. It will take a major admission on Isabella’s part to free Nicholas from the grasp of this organisation and her family, complete with Sean Courtney, high-ranking soldier in the Rhodesian Army, to orchestrate an end to the blackmail scheme. With wonderful historical explanation as to the Marxist flavour Africa took in the 1970s, Smith offers a powerful and stunning narrative that leaves little doubt in the reader’s mind that this continent’s corruption has close ties to the Cold War’s installation of puppet regimes. Not to be missed by fans of the series.

How Smith can top each of the previous novels in the Courtney series baffles me, but he has done so, while weaving historical narratives throughout. The bloodshed, the puppetry undertaking by the USSR and the hands-off approach by the Americans left the region, the continent as a whole, as desolate as it stands at present. Smith moves away from the apartheid discussions and onto the horrors of Angola and Ethiopia specifically, where thousands died in major regime changes throughout the 1970s. This novels is surely a bridge to the last in the second collection, with a little mention of the Ballantyne family (another subject I believe is addressed in A TIME TO DIE), with another generation of characters working to play their part in the South African dream. The multi-generational theme becomes more apparent in this and the previous novel. While Smith preceded a few others, I can now see the ties to the Rutherfurd, Archer, and Follett series that deal with these family saga forms of novels. I cannot speak highly enough about this powerful series, dealing with the politics of Africa for which I have so long been pining.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for a powerful addition to the narrative laid out in the previous six novels in this collection, which illustrate the intricacies of the African story.

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The Leopard (Harry Hole #8), by Jo Nesbø

Nine stars

By crafting arguably the most intense of the Harry Hole novels to date, Nesbø puts the reader in the middle of an intense murder investigation and search for another horrific killer. After suffering greatly at the hands of the The Snowman, a serial killer from a previous novel, Hole is hiding out in Hong Kong, with little interest in returning to his native land. Kaja Solness, newest member of the Crime Squad within the Oslo Police, is sent to coax him back, explaining that the Squad has come upon a potential new serial killer whose methods are horrific. Solness is only able to convince Hole when she reveals that his father, Olev, is dying in hospital. Upon his return to Norway, Hole realises that the Crime Squad is in a significant power struggle with Kripos, the national police service, which investigates serious crimes. Its head, Mikael Bellman, has no love loss for Hole and tries to contain the former investigator. Hole only becomes involved in the investigation when a Norwegian MP is killed, at which point he is convinced her death is closely related to the other two murders. Working undercover with members of the Squad, Hole begins poking around and determines that there is a common denominator, a cabin at which all the victims stayed on the same night. Working closely with Solness not only creates great workplace chemistry, but allows Hole to get closer to her on a more personal level, even if it backfires for a time. When the Squad’s antics are uncovered by Bellman, they scatter and Hole is eventually brought on to work with Kripos as a consultant of sorts. Hole and Bellman concoct a sting operation at the cabin with one of the potential victims who’s fled to Australia. However, when the killer outsmarts everyone, things take another turn for the worse. An arrest by Kripos of the potential killer goes horribly wrong when an airtight alibi is given and Hole is left holding the blame. It is only when Hole visits The Snowman in prison that he obtains a means of approaching the case that might help. After using that advice, Hole cracks the case wide open and learns just how sinister this serial killer is prone to be, using something called a Leopold’s Apple to assist with slayings. With time spent in Congo as well as throughout Norway, Hole and the rest of the characters weave a thrilling tale matched only in Nesbø’s other wonderful Harry Hole thrillers.

The progression of the series is masterful on so many levels. Hole becomes more despondent as the books progress, digging himself deeper into his own personal isolation chamber, though his character is such that readers can find many parallels or likeable aspects. Nesbø is certain to allow much growth in his characters and builds on Hole’s complexities throughout the series, as well as weaving storylines from past novels into each subsequent one, which forces the reader to be sharp and use the power of recollection. As with many of the novels, the former love of Hole’s life, Rakel, makes an appearance and pulls on his limited heartstrings in such a way that he cannot shake her, no matter how hard he tries. There is even some personal growth on Hole’s immediate family front, where both sister and father play a limited by significant role in the larger narrative. Readers who enjoy the series will likely use this book (and its predecessor) as the standard against which all other series novels are judged. Stellar work keeping the story moving and the reader hooked throughout.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for always finding new ways to impress your readers. ‘What will Hole do next?’, sits on the tip of my tongue when I begin each new novel.

Rage (Courtney #6), by Wilbur Smith

Nine stars

In the best of the Courtney series novels to date, Smith weaves more tales of South Africa, using his explosive cast of characters. With the Second Word War in the recent past, South Africa moves into a new era, both of politics and racial clashes. Half-brothers Shasa Courtney and Manfred De La Rey both hold seats in Parliament, but sit on opposing sides. The National Party has succeeded at the polls and holds a firm grip on power, seeking to legislate their permanent rule of the country, in which blacks will be subservient under apartheid. When Shasa is lured from the opposition benches to the National Party, he is promised a cabinet post and serves effectively, as South Africa is shunned internationally for its antics. Some may say Shasa has turned his back on his morals, though he would argue that there is a need to work within the system currently in place, trying to turn things around in whatever way he can. The black population of the country will not wait for an outside saviour. Moses Gama works within the military arm of the African National Congress (ANC) to bring about change, no matter the bloodshed. As he rallies the troops, Gama commits the ultimate coup when he lures Shasa’s wife, Tara, away from her husband and into his bed. They conceive a son, which Tara has in secret, and Gama is able to use Tara as a pawn in his evolving plot to infiltrate the government. When a major terrorist plot is foiled, Gama faces the ultimate price after a trial in the white courts. Working together, Shasa and Manfred, whose connection has only just been revealed to one another, are able to limit any violence as they quell the ANC protests and keep South Africa strong. In the latter portion of the novel, Shasa finally uncovers the White Sword, the man behind the murder of his grandfather, Garrick Courtney. Manfred disappears from public life in a negotiated deal with his brother, living out his life on the farms while Shasa rises to new powers, representing the Republic of South Africa on the international scene. Powerful in its plot advancements and ever-developing characters, Smith does a masterful job at keeping the reader highly entertained throughout. 

One reason that this novel vaults ahead of its predecessors is the thick plots related to the political and social developments within South Africa. It is within the timeframe of this novel that the Smuts morals of governing are turned around and the National Party begins a brutal regime of ostracizing the black population. Smith weaves historical truths within his fictional narrative, as South Africa becomes the abandoned child of the British Commonwealth and soon leaves the comforts of the nest to survive as a republic. Smith is also keen on pushing the multi-generational aspect of the story within this novel, honing the lives of both Manfred and Shasa’s children, giving them their own lives and plots that develop throughout and will, hopefully, continue to expand as the series moves forward. These rich storylines foster more interest for the reader, as the torch is passed from Centaine to her grandchildren with great intrigue, and each grandchild chooses a life path of their own. Smith leaves many threads dangling and must address them, but also makes sure to tie off a number of loose ends, all in the hopes of keeping the reader guessing about what will come next.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for taking the time to bring South Africa to life. This is a series I have been looking for and you deliver it with such ease. 

Power of the Sword (Courtney #5), by Wilbur Smith

Eight stars

Building off the drama of the previous novel, Smith paves the way for another explosive tale in Power of the Sword. As readers will remember, Centaine de Thiry Courtney has two sons; Shasa, from her relationship with Michael Courtney, and Manfred De La Rey, from a tryst with Lothar while she remained lost in the African backcountry. When Lothar committed a dastardly act, Centaine disowned him and refused to acknowledge Manfred whatsoever. As the novel opens, both boys are teens, though neither knows of the other’s existence as a blood relation. Shasa is living with his mother and enjoying the spoils of her diamond mine while Lothar has Manfred under his wing, working as a fisherman and running a canning company. This contrast in lifestyles is further reflected in the boys’ upbringing, where Shasa rubs elbows with the British South African elite and attends top-notch schools while honing his polo skills. Manfred must fight to survive and becomes indoctrinated with the more deeply-rooted Boer sentiment of white South Africans. When Lothar plots to bring down Centaine’s diamond mines with a significant heist, things go horribly wrong and he is sentenced to hard labour, leaving Manfred to live with his uncle, Tromp Bierman, a well known and much respected Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. Bierman not only exacerbates the anti-British sentiment about South African rule, but also fosters a new passion for the sport of boxing. As time progresses, both Shasa and Manfred qualify to represent South Africa at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Manfred is pulled into a political scheme, orchestrated by the Nazis, and he is sent back as a covert operative to bring down the South African government. Smith also sees fit to place Centaine in a love triangle of her own, which sees her trying to forge a place for herself while still dealing with her past indiscretions regarding Lothar and Manfred. Additionally, as Smith as made it a theme in all his books, the rise of discontent among the black South Africans emerges again with the creation of the African National Congress (ANC). A wonderful addition to the Courtney series, Smith treats readers to a stellar piece of work.

The continuation of the second Courtney series is full of juicy storylines and character development that makes this series well worth its invested time. Pulling on ideas and plots from not only the previous novel, but first series as well, the story is weighty as well as being complex. With a continued focus on the next generation of the Courtney clan, Smith pulls on historical events to pave the way towards much drama and character development. Keeping the story rich with plots, the reader has much on which to grasp as things develop slowly, but continually. Political change is on the horizon in South Africa and Smith paints a powerful picture of racism and segregation, which will soon stun the world with its cruel application. Perhaps one of the better novels in the larger collection to date, Smith builds towards an exciting next novel, without rushing anything and leaving the reader feeling cheated. The African subcontinent comes alive as Smith delves in so many directions, making his novels must-reads for the curious and history buff.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for a series that keeps getting better. I am blessed to have stumbled upon this collection and am learning so much in your narratives. 

The Snowman (Harry Hole #7), by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars

Nesbø creates his best novel in the series to date, placing Harry Hole and the larger cast of characters in a fast-paced race to discover Norway’s first serial killer. Hole is investigating a number of murders in and around the Oslo area, after previous detectives could not find tangible clues to tie them together or offer any insight. Hole discovers that all the slain women are married mothers and that a snowman stands outside their residence, a beacon of sorts. Using the apt moniker “The Snowman” for the killer, Hole works alongside a new partner, Katrine Bratt, and they expand the investigation, finding previous murders scattered throughout Norway. Further investigating sees Hole and Bratt discover a potential motive for the murders, children whose paternity is in question, unbeknownst to the fathers. As the case continues to heat up, Hole finds himself more drawn to Bratt on a number of levels, struggling with a past romance as well. The detectives work together and place a number of suspects in the crosshairs, only to discover that these are misdirections by the real killer. When Bratt is considered a prime suspect, Hole must fight with all he has to clear her name or detail her and stop the murdering rampage. Reconnecting with his ex, Rakel, Hole must also determine if she is safe from The Snowman, or if she could become another victim, as the killer seems focussed on personalising the act. A fabulous story that pushes Harry Hole to the brink on numerous occasions, Nesbø keeps readers begging for more.

I have been anticipating getting to this novel in the series for a while. Having heard that it is the best of the collection, I can certainly see why, with Nesbø upping the ante from the start. The story is a compilation of many plots woven together and forces the reader not only to follow a complex murder investigation, but also subplots that do, eventually, play into the larger narrative. The introduction of Bratt as Hole’s new partner harkens back to the plight of past detectives who worked alongside Hole. As the story pulls in so many directions, there is no doubt that the unfinished business left between Hole and Rakel must play some role, which substantiates the argument that she was highly important to Hole, even as many others are kept at arm’s length. With his continued battles to wrestle with addiction, Hole becomes even more likeable in this story, as he pushes outside of his comfort zone to offer the reader more of a glimpse into his multi-faceted personality.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for another wonderful book. Can we expect even more pizzazz to come in the next novel?

The Burning Shore (Courtney #4), by Wilbur Smith

Seven stars (of ten)

Returning to the Courtney series, Smith takes readers into the next generation of the family and their exploits. While fighting the Great War in Europe, Michael Courtney, illegitimate son of Sean Courtney, crosses paths with a young Frenchwoman, Centaine de Thiry. They soon fall in love and during a passionate night, conceive a child. They plan to marry and return to the African subcontinent after the war, much to Centaine’s curiosity and delight. While running a routine air reconnaissance mission, Michael is ambushed by the Germans and dies on his wedding day. When a sense of grief overcomes both Centaine and Sean, the latter still fostering the secret that Michael is his and not his brother Garrick’s, both agree that Centaine must leave Europe immediately. Centaine and her nurse are sent on a hospital boat to South Africa, where she may live with Michael’s family. However, the boat is torpedoed and Centaine is separated from the others, drifting to shore off the coast of southwest Africa, alone and still pregnant. As she tries to find her way, Centaine is taken in by a couple from the San tribe, who help her navigate the bush and teach her of their ways, including a special piece of land, ‘The Place of All Life’. Here, Centaine eventually gives birth to a son, whom she names Michael Shasa Courtney, to honour both his father and the San couple. Centaine is eventually tracked down by German South African Lothar De La Rey, who agrees to return her to Garrick Courtney for a pardon. While they travel with young Michael, Centaine exhibits another moment of weakness and falls in love with Lothar before conceiving a child with him as well. She is happy to start a new life until she learns the San have been killed by Lothar. With a number of important choices to make, Centaine must decide how to carve out her life in Africa as a newly-adopted member of the Courtney family. Smith lays out the foundation for a wonderfully complex second series in the Courtney collection with this interesting opening novel, forcing the reader to recall all the characters who have played a role up to this point.

As I shift gears and return to the Courtney mindset, I am happy to see that Smith has not spared the reader any of the action or intrigue. As with all multi-generational novels, there is a need to bridge past stories with new ones, which Smith does effectively. In truth, parts of this novel precede A SPARROW FALLS, which left me trying to place some of these characters, to determine if I had heard of them in the aforementioned novel. The shift from the Sean and Garrick era to Centaine’s new role with enrich the story and keep the reader interested as well as curious. Smith’s depiction, both of the European theatre of war and the African backcountry, leaves little to the imagination and forces readers to pay close attention to all the nuances offered. I suspect that Smith has much more in store for the reader as the story continues to unravel and new characters will play central roles in the larger narrative as the series expands.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for a great novel, launching a powerful new portion of the series, and keeping Africa as your central setting. I cannot wait to see what else you have in mind for your readers.

The Redeemer (Harry Hole #6), by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars (of ten)

In the sixth novel from the Harry Hole series, Nesbø adds a slight religious flavour to the story, with strong symbolism throughout. When Robert Karlsen, a member of the Salvation Army, is gunned down during a public concert, the identity of the shooter remains a mystery, baffling the authorities. Harry Hole leads the investigation, though there is little on which to act, except a description that includes a red neckerchief. Unbeknownst to them, a Croatian soldier-cum-hitman, Stankic, was been paid for the shooting, but soon realises that he struck the wrong Karlsen. Rather than leaving town, Stankic doubles back and tries to kill Jon Karlsen to set things right. It is at this point that Hole begins to learn a little more and almost captures the elusive Stankic. Heading to Croatia to tie up some loose ends in the form of clues, Hole realises that Stankic is being handled by his mother. Hole makes a promise to ensure the authorities do not kill her son if Hole is told who ordered the hit. All is revealed to Hole, as well as a substantial motive. Returning to Norway, Hole must track down not only the killer but those who have been committing other heinous crimes within the Salvation Army and bring it all to an end before there are more casualties. However, Hole suffers a devastating event of his own, which focusses his attention to solve the case and get justice for all. In a way that only Hole can do, all cases converge and lead to a suspense-filled finale where there will be blood, but whose? Nesbø fascinates his readers yet again with this explosive tale.

The Hole series finds new and impressive ways to get better with each story. I find myself enthralled the more I read and cannot rest when Hole is on the prowl. Told from a more complex and darker perspective than North American thrillers, Nesbø thickens this book with significant character development (as he has in all the other novels) and inserts powerful story arcs that punish the reader for skimming or skipping books in the series. Nothing is more refreshing than seeing an author use all their skills to weave a book of much worth together as the breadcrumbs lead to an ultimate crime that only the master storyteller could construct. Jo Nesbø knows how to tell a story and does so with such ease!

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for another gem. Your ideas are ceaseless, which makes me want to keep reading.

The Leopard Hunts in Darkness (Ballantyne #4), by Wilbur Smith

Seven stars (of ten)

As the Ballantyne series comes to a close, Smith pulls out all the stops to tell a riveting and powerful story, set in the mid to late 1980s. After fleeing the country during its independence wars, Craig Mellow wants to return to the newly named Zimbabwe. While in exile of sorts, Mellow has written a very popular novel about his ancestors’ struggles in the region, based on a collection of journals he was able to take along with him. Returning to this political cesspool, Mellow’s main goal is to reclaim his family farm. While he begins to get things in order, he discovers a massive poaching ring slaughtering animals in and around the farm territory. Working with one of the local politicians, he casts blame on a government minister. When the frame-up is discovered, Mellow is accused of being a CIA operative and has everything he owned confiscated and is declared an enemy of the state. Fleeing the scene with American photographer Sally-Anne Jay, they go into the jungles of Botswana as they hide from Zimbabwe officials. Falling in love is but one of their adventures along the way as they remain below the radar until things are resolved and their names can be cleared. A wonderfully illustrative way to end the series, which parallels the struggles the Courtney series depicts in South Africa. Readers will not be disappointed with this novel or the entire series. 

Smith has worked hard to show the political and cultural machinations in southern Africa. Depicting the Mugabe iron-fisted rule of Zimbabwe, the story looks at the treatment not only of colonial whites, but of the means by which African politicians sought to rule their own people and distance themselves from colonial oppressors beforehand. Alas, these independence movements have not always been free from corruption, as Smith shows repeatedly. The Mellow struggle for land and recognition is surely not an oddity, though his courage to return after fleeing is also to be applauded. Amidst the political upheavals, Smith has also used this series to show how the African riches (from flora to fauna, to minerals) have helped to corrupt the entire country and that power has caused more problems than it solves. Pitting the indigenous against the colonizing forces, Smith shows how tribal populations were bullied or forced into a lifestyle not their own, as well as the fallout that came from it. The Courtney series began looking into this from the South African perspective, but in these four Ballantyne novels, the issue of diamonds and animal slaughter rises to the forefront of everyone’s minds, depicting a group more interested in profit than learning about the lands. Well written and thoroughly researched, Smith has done a marvellous job in showing how a region that has received so little ink in the world of fiction has so much on which to draw, given the time.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for a splendid series on the perils of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I took away so much and am eager to look into some of the historical documentation of the region and its people. I hope the remaining novels in the Courtney series are as explosive as these four books have been.

The Angels Weep (Ballantyne #3), by Wilbur Smith

Seven stars (of ten)

In the third Ballantyne novel, Smith continues with his theme of cultural and racial clashes. As Zouga continues to play a role in the development of Rhodesia and the colonisation of Africa, his son, Ralph, follows in the family tradition, keen on expanding British control of the region and exploitation of its resources. Acting in the Queen’s honour, the Ballantyne men work with Cecil Rhodes to tap into the natural resources of the land, this time in the form of gold and coal deposits. However, the Matabele tribe have finally had enough of this and move to strike out against Rhodes and his men, slaughtering many in light of the expansion of railways and telegraph lines. When the Matabele strike within the Ballantyne family, repercussions are significant as the tribesmen are pushed back and killed. It is only when a loose treaty is signed that things become more peaceful for all involved, but this is only a temporary fix. In the novel’s second part, Smith pushes the story ahead to 1977, utilising the subsequent generations to depict that the clashes of the late 19th century can and do resurrect themselves. With the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) gaining strength in the region, white politicians begin to realise that their stronghold in the region is quickly disappearing. Smith also introduces the reader to Craig Mellow, caught in the crossfire and injured. He is a white man of some importance, great-grandson to Ralph Ballantyne, who must make sacrifices to save himself while his homeland is torn apart by racial wars brewing for over one hundred years. Using some of the handwritten journals left by Ralph and Jonathan Ballantyne, Craig has a better understanding of the goings-on and promises to publish a realistic account of their struggles. While somewhat disjointed, the latter portion of the book continues to sow the seeds of resentment in the region that Smith has painted for the entire series to date. An interesting continuation of the series with that same underlying theme that the reader must, by now, know all too well.

Smith does not shy away from the theme of colonial clashes and the racial unrest in the region. While the argument is solid, the use of the two time periods has both positive and negative outcomes. It does show that these clashes between British-backed men like Cecil Rhodes and the Matabele are not a single historical event, but a larger and more complicated issue that played a key role in future issues between the races. However, that the issue remains unresolved does not add any new flavour to the story and the major jump in time leaves the reader feeling somewhat jilted as they try to organise the larger picture of who fits where and with whom. I suppose, since Smith seeks only to use four novels to depict the entire Ballantyne story, he must take freer liberties and therefore cannot use the time to slowly develop the generations, but it is worth noting as he does create new and interesting characters to take the series into its last novel. 

Kudos, Mr. Smith for another interesting perspective. I can only hope that the final novel brings the theme home and highlights the political clashes, with traditional Africans finally making their way to positions of power within the governing party. 

The Devil’s Star (Harry Hole #5), by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars (of ten)

In another sensational Harry Hole novel, Nesbø weaves a complex and highly captivating tale of a serial killer roaming the streets of Oslo. When a woman is found murdered in his apartment, the Criminal Division is called in to investigate. Tom Waaler heads up the group, who soon discover the victim has a severed finger and a red diamond in the shape of a pentagram–the devil’s star–shows up under her eyelid. Even with these interesting happenings, Harry Hole refuses to participate in the investigation, still smarting over the reprimand and threat of termination for falsely accusing Waaler of arms smuggling and murder of at least three people who can identify him. As more women turn up, with the same pentagram diamond on them, the team bandies around the idea that a serial killer may be on the loose. Due to its quaint nature, Norway has little experience with serial murders, though Hole is experienced and able to shed light on the case. With termination papers waiting to be signed, Hole received a reprieve only because the Chief Inspector is away and decides to put his animosity aside and assist with the case. As he revisits the crime scenes, Hole finds pentagrams in close proximities to the murders, leaving little doubt of their importance to the case. While he investigates, Hole is determined the mend the his strained relationship with his girlfriend, Rakel, and forge a stronger tie with Rakel’s son, Oleg. This begins somewhat effectively, but the job pulls Hole away as things get back on track. Hole makes a personal revelation that might pinpoint past and future murder scenes, as well as offering an inkling into who the killer might be. As Hole races to solve the case, he is approached by Waaler to join his illegal smuggling ring, sure that Hole’s reputation as a drunk will mire any action on uncovering Waaler’s true plans. With a suspect in custody, Hole is directed to pass a test of initiation, all in an effort to keep Waaler clear of any wrongdoing. Will Harry bring down the smuggling ring and how will this serial killer even be brought to justice? Nesbø brings the story to a crashing conclusion in this entertaining fifth instalment of the Harry Hole series.

Someone once told me that each Hole novel gets better and I have yet to prove that statement incorrect. The stories are intricate and the characters play numerous roles to build many storylines in an effective manner. Plots and subplots find themselves developing in tandem, with Harry Hole playing a role in many of them. The Hole character is one to marvel on, if only briefly. An admitted alcoholic with little desire to quit his vice, Hole is able to work through the haze and solve cases effectively, positing theories and character flaws effortlessly. The reader cannot help but indulge in the transformation that occurs before their eyes as Hole shifts from one extreme to the other within each of the novels. Of note, Hole is seduced by many a woman in his daily life, but is usually able to remember the passion that he and Rakel share, though the strain of things on that front make progress highly difficult. Nesbø effectively completes this trilogy within the larger Hole series, offering a fast-paced insight into the style of Oslo’s finest detective.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for this hard-hitting novel. The action never lets up and Hole grows into his own the more I read of him.