As a self-confessed murder mystery addict (as a Sherlock Holmes publisher I ought to be), it wasn’t too much of a surprise to me that I got deeply into the Harry Hole series of books from Jo Nesbo. What is a surprise is how many I have read in a row. I am now on the 8th book without a break and will happily continue on until I exhaust the series.
Hole is a fascinating character with many parallels with Sherlock Holmes. He is deeply flawed and socially inept - though his alcoholism at times in the series is chronic and has much more serious social problems than Holmes ever had. It’s his deductive powers where the similarities are the greatest. To avoid any spoilers in the series I won’t give specifics but suffice to say there are lots and as the series builds, they become more prolific. Harry becomes established as a serial killer hunter which, as Norway has never really had any before, makes him invaluable. It’s also the perfect backdrop to the deductions as he has to find links between the victims.
Those of a sensitive disposition be warned. The series is dark and with each book you feel Nesbo can’t get any darker but just read some of the reviews to see even hardened murder mystery fans struggle a bit.
Where there is the least similarity is the absence of a partner - Harry has no Watson - mainly because most of the colleagues he gets close to end up dying. He grows into the eternal loner in the series - with personal and work relationships failing even with those that are super tolerant of his alcholism.
A Norwegian alcoholic Sherlock Holmes? Not quite, but Nesbo owes a lot to Conan Doyle and I am sure if asked would tip a wink to Holmes’ creator. I am halfway through book eight - The Leopard and already looking forward to the next one.