I love a good whodunit. In my child-free years I used to devour a crime novel in one sitting, but regrettably those reading days are over. Nevertheless, I love it when I come across a writer who keeps you guessing until almost the last page.
Towards the end of last year I did a wee bit of social media strategy work for Vintage Books and their bestselling author Jo Nesbo. At the end of the project they sent me a parcel of his books, and I have to say it’s the most exciting ‘payment’ I’ve ever received. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into my first Jo Nesbo novel, having already observed the level of buzz that he receives from readers, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Devil’s Star is part of the Oslo Trilogy, featuring the good but troubled cop Harry Hole; but there’s no need to read Jo Nesbo’s books in order. From what I understand, you can start anywhere with them. There are seven books in total featuring Harry Hole, and an additional stand-alone novel called Headhunters.
The Devil’s Star begins with a young woman being murdered in her flat and a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star is found behind her eyelid. Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case, alongside his nemesis Tom Waaler. As the investigation progresses and further murders are revealed, all bearing the same murderer trademarks, it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose. A cleverly staged plan is underway, but can Harry Hole crack the murderer’s code before he/she reaches their endgame? Simultaneously, can he expose the double-agent in the force?
Jo Nesbo has been touted as the next Steig Larsson, being another translated Scandinavian writer. There are many similarities between Nesbo and Larsson’s style of writing, so if you enjoyed the Millenium series, you will undoubtedly enjoy The Devil’s Star. Speaking personally, I feel Larsson has the definite edge in terms of writing quality, but I wonder how much of this has to do with the translation. There were a handful of instances in The Devil’s Star where I found the translation to be slightly awkward, particularly in the opening few pages. But setting that slight issue aside, I found my first Jo Nesbo novel to be a cracking good read. There are a couple of lovely plot twists that I genuinely didn’t see coming, and the story moves at such a good pace that I really did find it difficult to put down. There were several nights that I kept reading with my book light, well after ‘lights out’! I’ll certainly be reading the other Jo Nesbo books that were within the parcel…
Are you a Jo Nesbo and Harry Hole fan? Or do you have another favourite sleuth? If you have any reading recommendations for 2012, please share them below.
* Image by Håkon Eikesdal