Harry Hole is the protagonist in a series of crime thrillers by Norwegian Jo Nesbø. A detective in the Oslo Police Department, Harry is usually tolerated by his superiors and colleagues despite his habitual alcoholism
and unorthodox methods
because he is a brilliant detective. The first two novels in the series are set in respectively Australia and Thailand, while all the subsequent ones largely take place in and around Oslo. The series has been translated into several languages, reaching bestseller status in Britain and Germany, and contains nine novels so far:
- 1997 – Flaggermusmannen; English translation: The Bat (2012)
- 1998 – Kakerlakkene
- 2000 – Rødstrupe; English translation: The Redbreast (2006)
- 2002 – Sorgenfri; English translation: Nemesis (2008)
- 2003 – Marekors; English translation: The Devil's Star (2005)
- 2005 – Frelseren; English translation: The Redeemer (2009)
- 2007 – Snømannen; English translation: The Snowman (2010)
- 2009 – Panserhjerte; English translation: The Leopard (2011)
- 2011 – Gjenferd; English translation: Phantom (2012)
) has yet to be translated into English; the others have been translated by Don Bartlett. The first novel in the series, Flaggermusmannen
(literally "Bat Man"), finally appeared in English in late 2012. For some reason, The Redeemer
does not appear to have been released in the United States, and it has yet to be announced when Flaggermusmannen
will come out in the U.S., but both can be imported from Canada.
Nesbø's strong anti-authoritarian streak and concern for women in peril
have earned him comparisons to the late Stieg Larsson
, although Nesbø's work tends to be less overtly Anvilicious
than Larsson's. His plotting has also been highly praised. The Redbreast
was voted the best Norwegian crime novel of all time by a poll of Norwegian readers, and Flaggermusmannen
won the Glass Key award for Best Nordic Crime Novel.
Provides Examples Of:
- Anyone Can Die
- Crapsack World: Very much so, particularly when it comes to Harry's private life, and it gets worse as the series goes on.
- Defective Detective: Harry, of course.
- Determinator: Aside from the obvious example of Harry himself, there's his archenemy Tom Waaler. In The Devil's Star, Harry escapes from him in an elevator, tearing his arm off with it in the process. Fifteen minutes later, Harry emerges from the basement of the building to find Waaler dead, leaning towards the window of the locked basement door. He descended four floors while bleeding horribly, expiring only when the locked door prevented him from reaching Harry.
- Freudian Excuse: The killers in The Snowman and The Leopard both have them, but Nesbø makes it plain that this does not in any way absolve them of responsibility for their actions.
- Never Suicide: Nemesis both subverts this and plays it straight: Anna Bethsen really did kill herself in a way she specifically designed to place as much suspicion on Harry and two of her other exes as possible. However, the murdered bank teller's brother-in-law, whom she was planning to run off with, was in fact murdered by a hit man hired by his brother. The inescapable conclusion is that all the crimes were committed as the result of love gone sour.
- Norse By Norsewest: Averted in the novels that are set in Oslo, which is portrayed as full of druggies, neo-Nazis, prostitutes, corrupt policemen and businessmen, and the occasional Serial Killer.
- Rape as Drama: Happens at least twice, due in no small part to the Crapsack World setting.
- The Stoic: A rather large number of the sympathetic characters. Averted by Hole himself, though, who is frequently driven to drown his sorrows.
- Serial Killer: A recurring trope, as Harry is one the very few people in Norway who has direct experience with serial killers. Played straight in Flaggermusmannen and The Snowman, but subverted in The Devil's Star (and, to a lesser extent, The Leopard), where the killer turns out to have a rational motive.
- Thanatos Gambit: Harry pulls one at the end of Gjenferd.
- Shout Out: Flaggermusmannen and Rødstrupe translate to Bat Man and Robin. Snømannen translates to Snow Man (Mr. Freeze?)