Book of the week

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Books - THE THIRST BY JO NESBO (HARVILL SECKER, $37)

Jo Nesbo knows how to spin a grisly yarn. The Nor­we­gian thriller writer also knows how to flesh out his characters, es­pe­cially the maudlin, liv­ing-on-the edge in­ves­ti­ga­tor Harry Hole, who can crack cases, but never the mys­tery of un­re­served happiness.

In this tale, the 11th in the Hole se­ries, not-quite­hero Harry has left the front line to lec­ture at po­lice col­lege in Oslo. He is sur­pris­ingly con­tent in his ca­reer and mar­riage and is man­ag­ing to stay off the booze but, as al­ways, he is wait­ing for all things good to crum­ble. And to an ex­tent, they do.

I’m a bit weary of for­lorn, pos­si­bly clin­i­cally de­pressed male leads with ad­dic­tion is­sues – there seem to be an aw­ful lot of them slop­ing around Lit­er­a­ture Land at the mo­ment – but Harry rises above the rest mostly be­cause he is so well drawn.

In The Thirst, he re­luc­tantly re­turns to his in­ves­ti­ga­tor role to help find a killer who is get­ting his teeth into in­ter­net dat­ing – his set of an­cient-style metal gnash­ers, that is. I won’t elab­o­rate.

What Harry doesn’t re­alise ini­tially, is that this bizarre set of crimes has a con­nec­tion to a pre­vi­ous case that had a life-al­ter­ing ef­fect on him. It will draw him in and re­turn him to the very dark places he has man­aged to ex­tri­cate him­self from.

The story, with all its hu­man car­nage, crashes along at a crack­ing pace – Nesbo tales usu­ally do – and reaches a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion.

But then (spoiler alert!) he prises open the door just a lit­tle and lets read­ers have a sniff of the may­hem to come. But we’ll have to wait un­til the next Harry Hole thriller to find out just what that en­tails. The Thirst is one for fans and new read­ers alike.

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