If you are a lover of the crime/mystery genre, there is no better author at work today. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning, you will better appreciate both the character of Harry Hole, but fascinate in the completeness of each book and the Nesbo's crafting plots that don't just "add on" but actually create a greater depth and complexity without forcing it in any way.
I can only compare this work to the other Scandinavian genius, Stieg Larsson. As different as they are in their flawed characters, Lizbeth Salander and Harry Hole are both so engaging and tragic in their pursuit of an ideal as they battle their demons.
Listening to Robin Sachs become Harry is like watching Alec Guinness become George Smiley. He so embodies Hole's fatalistic and tortured search for the truth and justice with the tone and pace of his narration, that the need for accents or voice modulations become superfluous. Very few readers can get away with this, as differentiating characters without them is an art. Sachs is one of those narrators I will seek out, despite the mediocrity of some for whom he applies his craft.
The ending is transcendent. It could not have been anticipated and without giving anything away, it is proof again of Nesbo's genius and refusal to take the safe route. And there is just enough ambiguity to keep the devoted hopeful of more to come.
I have read, rather listened, to virtually every Euro/crime novelist. The classic and contemporary Brits and all the "young turk" Scandies. The only exceptions being some good writers that some publishers have shackled with unlistenable narrators. This pairing of Nesbo and Sachs is the polar opposite. Great narration of great writing creates nearly flawless storytelling. I envy those of you who haven't discovered Jo Nesbo. Hopefully it won't take Scorcese's adaptation to make you a believer.
Great storytelling and perhaps the most complex protagonist since Sherlock himself. Nesbo's Hole, however you pronounce it, sees all even through the tragic alcohol haze he inevitably falls prey to. The plot is never predictable, the characters are never one dimensional and the writing is crisp and with the right balance of humour and gritty reality.
Obviously the rest of the Hole thrillers, without being as formulaic as most of the successful writers of the genre. But I like the comparison to Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko. Both protagonists persevere despite corruption, incompetence and fatal character flaws.
It was hard at first to listen without the bass, sober voice of the perfectly matched Robin Sachs. He seems to bring a little more gravitas to the characterization. But Sean Barrett is on my top five narrator's list, and with his ability with accents, was able to bring out the personalities of the secondary players, particularly the Aborigines. So that after the first few chapters, it mattered not a wit.
The great white Harry ...down under.
What a pleasant surprise so soon after the release of The Phantom. I hope the plan is to bring all of Nesbo's work to audioland, there is no one better out there. Keep them coming, but make sure it is Sachs or Barrett doing the storytelling.
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