Book review: Nesbø’s The Thirst

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

After writing two short stand-alone crime novels, Jo Nesbø has returned to his popular Harry Hole series. The Thirst is #11 and his fans will not be disappointed with this fast-moving and entertaining addition to the series.

At the outset Harry is a content man. He has recently married Rakel, the love of his life, and he is now an instructor at the Police College. He is, therefore, no longer a stressed-out, consumed police detective—that is, until the murders begin.

Two young women are brutally murdered. When it is discovered that they have two important commonalities, the perpetrator is declared a serial killer. His victims—several more follow—find their dates through the Tinder online dating service. But the most horrific commonality is that they die when the perpetrator bites their necks with a pair of iron teeth and then drinks their blood, like a vampire.

The residents of Oslo are, of course, terrified and want the guilty party brought to justice with great speed. But the perp is extremely clever, and the police are stumped. So what can they do? Naturally, the greatest Norwegian police detective of all times has to be called in. Harry at first refuses because he is content with his new life of marital bliss and of interesting, stress-free work.

Harry soon realizes, however, that he has an obligation to society. When he picks up the bloody trail, he becomes even more motivated. He recognizes the guilty party as Valentin Gjertsen, the only criminal who has ever eluded him. He has been brooding about him for the past four years. If he wants to eliminate this major irritant in his life, he must not let him escape. He has to take him out of society once and for all.

This novel moves quickly with many sudden and surprising twists and turns, right up to the last page. As usual, Nesbø creates characters with depth. The reader is never quite sure who can be trusted inside police circles or among professional collaborators such as psychologists and physicians. Most readers will, at one time or another, put some of the characters in the wrong camp.

This novel is one of Nesbø’s best. However, one complaint can be lodged. The final pages add too many new twists. The book could end earlier without the additional plot material. Did Nesbø want to add just a little more excitement for a possible screen play?

A movie based on the seventh Harry Hole book, The Snowman, will be released in the U.S. this October.

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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