Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo

I’ve been meaning to post a very short review of three of Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole mysteries. There’s a whole list of books in the series, but the trilogy of The Redbreast, Nemesis, and The Devil’s Star form a self-contained unit within it, and make an interesting read in themselves. I reviewed Redbreast sometime back, and read The Devil’s Star without reviewing it. Recently I read Nemesis (out of order), and gained a new appreciation.

Nesbø’s Oslo police detective character, Harry Hole (pronounced “hoo-leh”) is difficult to evaluate. He pushes credibility, because it’s hard to believe that anyone this alcoholic and reflexively self-destructive has managed to maintain a career in a modern police department. But in these books Hole has begun a difficult — but promising — relationship with a single mother, which inspires him (intermittently) to attempt to reform himself. This would give him one added thing he actually cares about in his life, beyond police work.

The running narrative in this trilogy involves another detective, a popular and charismatic one, whom Hole suspects of illegal activities and the murder of a colleague. Hole hates him, but is almost seduced into corruption by him.

What’s fascinating about the Harry Hole books is the multiple layers of mystery involved. Once the mystery is solved, there’s plenty of book left, and the reader discovers there’s a mystery within the mystery. Then there’s a further mystery within that. It unpeels like an onion.

This may relate to one of Harry’s mottos — “There is no such thing as a paradox.” Someone informs him in the third book that paradoxes do in fact exist. It seems to me possible (I’m not sure) that that discovery is the whole point of the books.

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