Four years after Police, Harry Hole returns in The Thirst, a bulky but gripping 500-pager packed with so many twists within twists, it’ll make even the sagest crime reader’s mind boggle. It’s not quite vintage Jo Nesbo, but it’s a fine return for his beloved character, and those who’ve enjoyed the preceding ten novels will enjoy Harry’s eleventh case.
The Thirst picks up from the end of Police, when escaped convict Valentin Gjertsen was about to rape the daughter of his psychotherapist. Gjertsen’s still at large in The Thirst, lying low and having undergone radical surgery to render himself unrecognisable. Following a series of women are murdered in their homes after Tinder dates, Harry Hole is called out of retirement to aid the investigation. The whole city is on red alert because of the killer’s methods: a set of iron jaws. When a ‘V’ signed in blood, as well as Gjertsen’s blood, are revealed at a crime, the case suddenly becomes personal for Harry. It’s a declaration of war from his old nemesis, the one who got away. But Gjertsen’s never displayed the tendencies of vampirisim before — so what’s changed this time?
The ‘A Plot’ — the hunt for the killer — is brilliantly constructed, even though the final revelation doesn’t quite land with the intended impact; not that it’s signposted, just that by the time Nesbo starts wrapping up his story, there are only so many suspects left to choose from. The novel’s biggest issue is that its burdened by so many subplots; Harry’s wife is suddenly taken ill and placed into a coma early on in the book; Police Chief Mikael Bellman peruses his nomination as Minister of Justice; Katrine Bratt is still recovering from events in The Snowman; and that’s barely scraping the barrel. There’s just a little too much here, which slows down the chase for the killer.
Having upped the ante with the previous novels in the Harry Hole series, The Thirst feels like Nesbo tapping the brakes just ever-so-slightly. All the elements that have won his novels millions of fans are here; this one just lacks that special something that made books like The Snowman and Police stand out. Even so, it’s great to have Harry Hole back, and a middling entry in this distinguished series remains a cut above Jo Nesbo’s competition.
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Imprint: Harvill Secker
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 20-Apr-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom