Regular readers of this column might recall four years ago I wrote that after the death of the much beloved Philip Kerr from now on my new favorite mystery novels will be Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series.
I adore his character Harry Hole. Nesbø just published the latest one, “Killing Moon,” and after waiting all this time for it I was so excited to read it and also a bit nervous because I was concerned it might not be as wonderful as I could have hoped. Well, I’m pleased to say that it is beyond fantastic and is one of the greatest crime novels I have ever read. And I have read thousands.
“Killing Moon” is simply that good. As the story opens Harry is doing what he usually does, attempting to drink himself to death. He’s trying to annihilate his psychic pain. During the period when he was married he was finally happy. Then someone murdered his wife and plunged him back into his emotional black hole.
These books are set in Norway. As “Killing Moon” begins Harry is pouring down the alcohol in a dingy bar. He’s in awful shape, emaciated, drunk, and he has just spent his last cent on another drink. The cent part was a surprise because Harry is burning through his last dollars in Los Angeles, far away from Oslo.
He meets an older woman in the bar. She claims she’s a former movie starlet, now down on her luck. She befriends Harry and not too long after that she tells him she’s in a lot of trouble; she borrowed almost a million dollars to invest in a movie project. The Mexican cartel that fronted her the money wants it back and she doesn’t have it.
Harry intercedes and the next thing we know he’s made a deal with the cartel, if he can find a way to get them their cash within a week they won’t kill his friend. They hold her hostage while Harry scrambles to come up with the money somehow. That’s how he ends up back in Norway.
I’m being careful not to give away too much about this story. Harry goes back to Oslo to do what he does so well, solving murder cases. Two young women have been killed in horrifying fashion and Harry’s rich client is a suspect. You are probably wondering, who is this rich client, we thought Harry Hole was a cop?
Harry tries to get that million dollars to save his friend as the clock ticks. The killer in this story is super creepy and really smart. He’s an authority on parasites and that is a huge part of the plot.
Nesbø lets us see things through the killer’s eyes and as we do we understand that he’s utterly demented yet we also realize he was forced to endure horrific abuse and his overwhelming desire for revenge makes him a somewhat sympathetic character, although still a homicidal weirdo.
“Killing Moon” is a magnificent concoction. Nesbø keeps readers thoroughly confused. What a genius.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at email@example.com.