It’s 20 years since alco-cop Harry Hole made his debut in The Bat. Neither he nor his creator have lost their appetite for the dark side or for creatures of the night — in this case a “vampirist” with steel dentures who shows worrying signs of being the only serial killer to have ever escaped Hole’s handcuffs. The haunted detective and Oslo, his hunting ground, are reflections of each other: “melancholic, reserved, efficient”.
What distinguishes Jo Nesbø from Michael Connolly and Jeffery Deaver — two other crime writers still, after many years, at the top of their game — is his wry sense of humour. He not only provides a super-complex plot with plenty of twists (two within the first 12 pages) but also skilfully continues the lives of the all-too-fallible characters we have grown to love and hate.
Harry and his stepson Oleg — now a student at the police college where Harry lectures — almost come to blows when Rakel, wife and mother to them, falls dangerously ill. Bellman, the corrupt police chief, is up for the job of minister of justice while Constable Berntsen, his childhood crony, is still in love with his boss’s wife and out for revenge.
This is where the heart of The Thirst lies: a search for reconciliation rather than “recognition and acclaim”. Moral choice and consolation may — in the eyes of some — be illusions but “we do what we have to because we are who we are”. So what does dipso Harry do besides fighting the bad guys? He buys a bar. Skol!
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