Frelseren

FrelserenFrelseren by Jo Nesbø
Series: Harry Hole #6
Publisher: Aschehoug
Released: October 12, 2005
Pages: 462
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Under en førjulskonsert på Egertorget i Oslo blir en soldat i Frelsesarmeen drept. Dagbladet har fotografert en mulig gjerningsmann, men identifikasjonsekspert Beate Lønn forvirres av at ansiktet forandrer seg fra bilde til bilde. Førstebetjent Harry Hole settes på jakten etter mannen uten ansikt, og mens Oslos borgere ønsker hverandre fredelig jul, forvandles byens forfrosne gater gradvis til et krigslandskap. For dette er en jakt på liv og død. Mest død.

Frelseren, or, The Redeemer, is yet another solid Harry Hole book. Frelseren uses the simple, but very effective technique of relating to the inside workings of a mysterious world most of us know of, but few of us know: the Salvation Army. A soldier from the Salvation Army is killed, and, well… would it be a little too on the nose to say that all hell breaks loose? Harry Hole is, as usual, involved in trying to solve the murder, and, as usual, the case takes some unexpected turns.

This book is, for better and for worse, less about Hole’s personal life, and more about the actual police investigation than the other books have tended to be. One of the things I’ve liked about the Hole-books is that they’re less about the crime, and more about the character of Harry Hole who happens to be solving a crime. This book is very much about the crime itself, which is justified by the complexity of the events having been turned up a notch. This does make Frelseren a great example of a quality that continues to impress me with some writing in general, and that has been a staple of the Nesbø-works I’ve read so far: the ability to make a story complicated without making it confusing. Or perhaps I’ve been fooled, and this is actually the ability to make a story seem pleasingly complicated even though it isn’t. Regardless, the book left me feeling that I’d managed to successfully navigate, and understood, a complex story.

Despite the story having satisfied me, I did miss a crucial element that has, in my opinion, made the Harry Hole books stand out against other comparable books: the development of Harry Hole himself. This is a story that, for the most part, could easily have existed in any universe, and with any characters filling the roles. I don’t hold this against the story, it’s more than good enough to stand it’s ground, but it’s hard not to hold it against a book in this particular series. Frelseren is a story in which Hole plays a part, rather than a story of Hole’s life in which the crime plays a part, and that feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to me. The nods toward Hole’s past and personality in this books feels like due diligence rather than character development, and doesn’t drive the story. I can see how some might prefer it this way, but it does put this story in the same ballpark as a large amount of other books, rather than utilizing what sets these books apart.

Ultimately, my gripe of “not enough Harry Hole” is a result of expectations rather than the book itself. Frelseren is a very solid crime novel. It doesn’t feel like a story with the usual twists, but revels in a chaotic mess that feels more real than stories of this kind tend to do. Even when the point-A-to-B parts of the plot-lines take place, it’s not without a degree of something not quite going as planned. This creates an enhancing nerve of uncertainty that runs through the whole story.

Frelseren is undoubtedly a good book. I can see it being a little easier to like than some of the other Hole books, but I think it’s a little harder to love. I do hope that the next books go a little deeper into the characters, but as long as the stories keep maintaining the quality of this story, I’m sure I’ll like them regardless.

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