Life is seldom simple for Harry Hole. As a recovering alcoholic, Harry knows that he is an excellent police detective but realizes that he will not rise any higher in the law enforcement hierarchy. He believes in doing the right thing, solving the crime, even if he does step on toes of those who are in power positions. Harry just doesn’t play the political game well. His expertise is doing what is just, in his mind.
Harry Hole is investigating a bank robbery. A man walked into a bank in Oslo, Norway and immediately placed a gun to an employee’s head. He quietly tells this employee to count to twenty-five while the manager is opening the safe. If the safe is not opened within the time limit, the employee is murdered. She is shot in the head. What are her last words to her killer? On the tapes, Harry wonders if she recognized the murderer. She seemed to have a smile on her face and he seemed to definitely be in her personal comfort zone of space.
Being that Hole’s significant girlfriend has returned to Russia for a custody battle with her former husband, he quickly falls into a former relationship with Anna, an artist. Somehow, Harry awakens with no memory of this night and Anna is found murdered. Did Harry kill her while he was in an alcoholic blackout?
Harry has difficulty with many of his superiors in the police force, especially Tom Waaler, who is everything that Harry is not, his nemesis. Tom is handsome, political, accustomed to getting his own way by using people, and with his own sense of morality or ethics. Perhaps in the morality or ethics, the two in some way resemble each other.
Nemesis is the second book in the Harry Hole series which begins with The Redbreast. The successive books are The Devil’s Star, The Snowman, The Redeemer, and finally The Leopard. I would highly recommend that at least The Redbreast be read before Nemesis so that the reader understands the characters and their relationships.
Nemesis is a well-thought out complicated mystery. There are numerous connections following several logical threads that keep the reader thoroughly involved until the last page. The overlapping of the crimes makes this a violent interwoven tale that feels extremely realistic with the flawed characters that are constantly challenged in their daily life.
A sidebar in Nemesis was the history and cultural aspects of the gypsy culture throughout Europe. These relationships with the crimes and the investigations, showed a realistic viewpoint of Harry’s respect for this culture while working with the help of this unique group.
Whether the expertise in story telling of this Norwegian story is the translating of Don Bartlett or the phenomenal writing of Jo Nesbo, the combination of the two make Nemesis a troublesome, but haunting novel. I definitely plan to read everything by this author as it becomes available in English.