Jo Nesbø – The Devil’s Star

★★★

“Harry Hole. The lone wolf, the drunk, the department’s enfant terrible and, apart from Tom Waaler, the best detective on the sixth floor.”

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Title: The Devil’s Star (Harry Hole #5)
Author: Jo Nesbo
Language: English (Originally Norwegian)
Publication details: London: Vintage, 2009. (First published 2003)
Pages: 522

The gist of it:

  • Serial killer on the loose. Putting diamonds under people’s eyes. Classy.
  • Harry: drunkard half the time, investigator the other. Oftentimes both.
  • Tom and Harry partner up. Begrudgingly.
  • Crimes get solved, antagonisms boil.
  • Harry faces off with Tom once and for all.

My ponderings:

I am wholly impressed! This book surpasses its predecessors in both plot and prose. Not sure if Nesbo got better at writing, his translator got better at translating, or I just started getting used to it all. Whichever way, this book got me hooked; it delivers a much awaited finale to the running investigation since The Redbreast, and it has an intriguing case with what could possibly be a psycho killer. Perfect!

 

At first I thought the story would be mainly about Harry and Tom grinding their teeth at the prospect of working together while solving the case of a serial killer with a thing for diamonds. Though half the book does centre on the case, the other half addresses Harry’s running investigation of Ellen’s murder, his growing suspicion towards Tom and his shaky relationship with Rakel.

In short: It was everything that I hoped for!!

Picture
Do the happy little psycho dance.

Already in Nemesis I was going on about how I loved to see Harry’s life take the centre of the story as compared to the cases he was solving. Well this book was like a double bonus; it had a great case which tickled my curiosity bones, and Harry’s life wove intermittently with the case.

One by one, random women are being killed, which causes Oslo’s police to face their biggest fear: there’s a serial killer on the loose. A man who claims his wife has been kidnapped, and Harry suspects most probably killed, introduces Harry to the concept of butt-sex. Ahaha, no, not in that way. Still, it was amusing to see Harry get all squeamish. The guy has dealt with severed limbs, murder, corpses, drugs, yet still can’t face the concept of butt-sex with a straight face. I don’t mean to be childish, but I couldn’t help but chuckle. Anyway the butt-sex actually played a really crucial role in helping Harry to solve the case. Honest.

I had an inkling this story was gonna be good just because Harry was forced to team up with Tom. The tension and animosity between the two is at boiling point, though honestly you can’t blame Harry. Tom IS number one on his suspect list of who killed his friend, Ellen. Just when you thought it’d be a full-out dog fight, Tom, the fishy bastard, actually starts siding Harry and backing him up when no one else would. Harry is of course as suspicious as one could be, yet begrudgingly starts to respect the detective (not trust him though, never). Their antagonism has been clear since the start, so it was really interesting to the dynamic between them shift and grow.

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Basically Harry’s sentiments towards Tom.
The ending was simply killer, with Harry and Tom having an ultimate face off which resulted in a sufficiently gory climax. As bloody as it was though, I actually really liked it. I like protagonists being all no-mercy. With the shit they put up with, why should they still show sympathy towards the villain? I’m looking at you, Batman.

 

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Oh, c’mon bats…well at least you don’t mind maiming your enemies.

The Devil’s Star also focuses on Harry and Rakel’s relationship. They’re a really rocky boat, so it’s nice to see what direction they wish to take, together. Harry’s a workaholic with a vengeance (literally), Rakel is a single mom who needs a stable family; they’re at ends, but they’re in love, as corny as it sounds. They’re people with problems, but there’s an attraction between them, chemistry, and they care for each other. I like that. Keeps it down-to-earth and real as compared to a passionate love that transcends interplanetary space.

Overall, this book is a great thriller, and has satisfied me fully with the finale to the long-running investigation. The only problem is now that it’s solved, I lack motivation to pick up the next book in the series. Ha!

Recommends it to: Anyone looking for a great thriller, and who wants to see two adversaries duke it out in a gory fight scene. Hell yeah.

 

Quotes:

‘It feels a bit like jumping out of a burning house. Falling is better than burning.’
‘At least until you land.’

 “She sighed: ‘When are you coming back?’
She heard Harry inhale, hold his breath and slowly let it out again before he answered:
‘I thought you said you didn’t believe in ghosts.”

“Hello! Harry! Can’t you answer when a childhood friend asks you if the foundations of your existence are still in place?”

“…stereotypes were self-reinforcing because unconsciously you were looking for things to confirm them. That was why policemen thought – based on so-called experience – that all criminals were stupid, and criminals thought the same about all policemen.”

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