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.