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A good second half hidden behind a slow beginning
on 4 April 2011
Far from being 'the next Steig Larsson', Jo Nesbo's first Harry Hole novel is set in Norway and other than being in the crime genre and translated into English has nothing in common with the author he is so frequently compared to. I've also found out after reading that this is meant to be the third book in the series (the first two not being available in English), which explains the lack of introduction to the characters.
Hole's suspicions are aroused following reports of a rare firearm being smuggled into the country, however his investigation is constantly blocked by his bosses. The first half of the book is painfully slow, and the set-up described in the blurb does not even finish until over halfway through the book. During the early portions, half the story takes place in 1999, and the other half in the 1940s during the second world war. The narrative flicks between the two time periods with nothing to connect the two and is quite confusing until you get used to it.
Once a defining event hits just after the halfway point, and some new characters dropped in, the story picks up, and becomes readable - before this I only found myself able to read a chapter at a time as the plot was moving so slowly. It took me a week to read the first half compared with a day for the second. The story finally begun to make sense but there was little to suggest the reader had been meant to work any of it out as they went - the whole mystery had to be spelt out by the characters at the end to make clear what had happened.
The ending itself was abrupt and sudden, with very little follow-up to the climax, and leaves some annoying unresolved plot lines that I can only assume will be picked up in the sequel. I was defiantly going to give up on Nesbo during the first half (and almost considered giving up on this book), but given how it picked up I think I may have a go at the second novel before deciding whether to continue with the series.