Review: The Thirst by Jo Nesbo

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The word vampire is about to have a whole new meaning in Jo Nesbo’s eleventh Harry Hole thriller The Thirst. As a weapon, the killer that Harry has to find makes use of not a sharp dagger, or axe, or what have you, but a piece of ironwork that is as much creepy as it is captivating. A set of iron teeth. The tattoo he has. This is what chills me right down to the bone about this killer. A demon face screaming, trying to break free by ripping itself out of the man’s chest. Harry has his work cut out for him.

Oslo, Norway, in the month of September. It starts with an innocent little Tinder date and a thirty-something year old woman named Elise Hermansen, a lawyer, ending up dead not long after. Bitten after the assailant put something in his mouth. Formerly a member of the Harry Hole group, leading the investigation is Detective Inspector Katrine Bratt. Having given up detective work, Harry Hole has been lecturing at a police college. Elise’s murder is too complicated for Mikael Bellman, the Chief of Police, to leave in the hands of his Crime Squad detectives alone. The case needs Harry Hole to set up another hunting team to help catch this blood-thirsty killer.

With a testosterone level close to twenty-five per cent, Katrine Bratt, who is still new at taking the lead in an investigation, is different than other women. The majority of her skeptics are her female colleagues. She has a big way to go to earn everyone’s respect, and when she’d asked Harry how to lead an investigative team that has no reason to trust her, his answer had been simple. “Catch the murderer”. Katrine sees someone’s hand drumming on the arm of a chair during the meeting of this case’s preliminary investigation. She has to impress her colleagues in the days to come.

Other faces working for Crime Squad include a fifteen year constable who hates journalists and “Paki types” named Truls Bernsten and a detective constable who is something of a womanizer named Anders Wyller. Even with all of Truls’s years as a cop, Anders is undeniably smarter than him. After the first murder, Truls gets the name of the victim wrong and Anders corrects him. They’re questioning college students and Truls asks them one question and he’s comically set to go, whereas Anders decides to continue asking questions. To the delight of the college students, who are female, Anders ends his questioning by asking for their phone numbers. He has to, right?

Mona Daa, a crime reporter who looks somewhat like a penguin to Truls, is one of the minor characters that I found interesting enough to see how she fit into the whole story and the lives of some of the characters. She gyms, so when someone like Truls needs to see her, he knows where to find her. As a crime reporter, Mona is smart. During her first appearance, she makes it known to Truls and Anders that they’ll get paid for their “help” if they help her. Truls is a bit dodgy. And remember that he’s been a constable for fifteen years. He sees Mona at her gym because he has information worth some extra side kroner.

Because I’m someone who wasn’t familiar with Harry Hole prior to reading this book, I was disappointed that I didn’t really get to follow Harry, “the most mythologised murder detective in the Oslo Police”, at first. The author gives information about him in bits and pieces through characters like Katrine and Anders up until the point that the case becomes too big for Crime Squad alone. What I gathered was that he was a man who has dreams that tell him things and who “had found relative happiness somewhere towards the end of his forties”. Happily married, everything is perfect in Harry’s life. Change, well, change is a worrisome bugger. Whether his newfound happiness will last is something to be concerned about.

I can also say that this Harry Hole isn’t the same one that big fans of him are familiar with. His eyes are not as red as they used to be, his hair is graying in certain places, and he is no longer an alcoholic. The killer might not be able to do anything of Harry’s eyes and graying hair, but he might put the poor man’s sobriety to the test. Readers will have to wait and see. Small interesting details like this about several characters adds layers upon layers on the plot.

I liked how full of strange information this book was. Information I’m sure I wouldn’t have come across anywhere else. The iron teeth. This freaky weapon is an item of intrigue by itself. Speculated by one character to have been used by bound slaves in combat and by another to go all the way back to AD 800s Japan, used in a “tradition known as ohaguro”. Katrine, who needs some impressing to do because she is new to leading an investigation and all, brings the Japanese term up and looks all smart.

Jo Nesbo tackles a lesser known psychological condition known as vampirism. Oslo is not that big a city, so you can suspect what the atmosphere in this book is like once the murders start piling up and people start throwing around words like “vampire”. The killer instills fear in everybody, but Harry, who suspects that he knows the killer from the very beginning, is on his tale. This book defines what it means not to accept even the obvious, to read between the lines, and make note of the finer details around you. A chilling detective thriller one should drink every word of. The clues are there from the start, so if you really look at what you’re reading, the truth won’t be that much of a shock. In no do I imply that a shocking truth at the end is all readers have to look forward to. I can say no more. Only, prepare yourself to be fascinated by the character that is Harry Hole.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Vintage Digital
Date Published: April 20, 2017
Genre: Police Procedurals
Pages: 538
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