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By Jo Nesbø
Translated by Don Barlett
Map drawn by Reginald Piggott

Harper, March 2012 (first Harper mass market printing) ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-06-211969-8
Kindle eBook: $9.99

Reviewed by Larry Jung
(May 2012)

From the start, Detective Inspector Harry Hole, of the Crime Squad, saw the motive for the bank robbery as murder, not money. In this he immediately clashed with the Robberies Unit, particularly with its boss, Rune Ivarsson. Harry was part of the task force formed to catch the master bank robber, nicknamed the Expeditor, who vanished with 2 million Norwegian kroner from a bank in Oslo after brutally executing a bank employee. Though the bank's CCTV captured the entire robbery, the police experts did not have any viable clues to go on. Even the robber's voice didn't give them any clues because the robber whispered his instructions to a bank employee, who then relayed the robber's instructions. Ivarsson saw the shooting of the bank employee as a consequence of not handing over the money within the 25 seconds demanded by the Expeditor. But Harry was puzzled why the Expeditor risked the seconds to whisper something to the bank employee just before shooting her. Harry challenged the whole approach of the Robberies Unit, as well as challenged the competency of Ivarsson being able to head the investigation.

Harry argued the case with his own boss, Bjarne Møller. "What's the first thing we ask ourselves when a murder has been committed, boss? Why? What's the motive? That's what we ask. In the Robberies Unit they automatically take it for granted money is the motive and don't ask the question." (Page 57) Also Harry said Ivarsson was not open to constructive criticism and not working out heading the investigation. At least from Harry's point-of-view.

Møller replied, "Can't you just do your job for once in your life, Harry? And let others decide how it's organized? Having to go at not being against everyone won't inflict permanent damage, you know." Harry just wanted to solve this case as quickly as he can so he can get back to finding the real killer of his late police partner, Ellen. To do this, Harry wanted Møller to get Ivarsson to agree for Harry to have an independent team and do a parallel investigation. Harry argued that was how the Redbreast was caught. (This refers to the previous Harry Hole book of the same name.) Harry requested Beate Lønn for his team. Though relatively inexperienced in field work, Beate had the rare neurological quirk that she never forgot any face she saw. She was also a Sherlock Holmes at finding the most obscure clues watching videos.

Despite his better judgment, Møller agreed to let Harry have an independent investigation. Apart from being Møller's best investigator, he liked the alcoholic, obstreperous, stubborn bastard. Despite a private life that was an absolute shambles, as far as police work was concerned, Harry in some mysterious way always landed on his feet. At least so far.

NEMESIS is an excellent addition to the Harry Hole novels. There is no doubt after reading NEMESIS of Nesbø's gift as a story teller. The story abounds with clichés: the alcoholic cop, the incompetent boss, the love triangle, the hero being framed for murder of a former girl friend, the super criminal master-mind in prison. Yet Nesbø, whose dead-on sense for suspense and for dramatic timing, has written a compelling thriller. In large part, he is able to depict characters that we care about, either for or against, in a fictional world that titillates the morbid in his readers. Make no mistake, the story is heavily laced with sadism and masochism. In Harry's world, you can only trust two things: that human beings have an infinite capacity to cause pain on each other and that Harry Hole is very very good at catching villains.

Harry Hole novels:

1997 - THE BAT MAN
2002 - NEMESIS
2011 - PHANTOM

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