Nesbo is best known for his Scandinavian-noir crime novels featuring Detective Harry Hole. His new book also concerns crime in Norway but from the point-of-view of the perpetrators. Roy and Carl are brothers living on a mountain top. Roy works in a service station and as the elder brother, he functions as Carl’s keeper, first as children and now as adults. Nesbo’s stories typically address issues like morality, but this book is particularly philosophical. Motives for bad behaviour are explored, casual violence leads to murder. Acceptance of violence is a seemingly casual action. Untypically, romantic relationships occur, and the L-word (love) is used. And complex relationships are complicated by lies, deceit and willful ignorance of certain realities. Simply put, this is one of Nesbo’s best books.
The Hogarth Press has undertaken The Shakespeare Project in which contemporary authors rewrite Shakespeare classics (see an earlier review of Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed, a retelling of The Tempest). Nesbo is a fantastic Nordic Noir writer, so he gleefully tackles the topic of police corruption and power struggles. The story is set in Scotland at a time that is near-contemporary. Interestingly, Nesbo uses all the Shakespearean characters: Macbeth, Duncan, Malcolm, Banquo, Duff. In the hands of a master writer, the allure of power is a powerful drug.
Another Harry Hole novel – hurrah! The story is rather bloody: a serial killer in Oslo with vampirism (you will have to look up the precise meaning of this word). There are two main reasons why this book is a splendid read. First, there are long discussions of moral philosophy – why does Harry obsessively pursue the solution to murders, knowing the strain this obsession places on his relationships? And second, the plot is intricate and impossible to predict. This is great summer reading.