A pair of assassination attempts bookend 50 years of postwar history in this bold, ambitious thriller.
Oslo Detective Harry Hole’s last case left him with a toxic reputation (The Devil’s Star, 2006). Now he has to make a snap judgment about an unauthorized man waiting with an Uzi in the path of the visiting American president. The man he shoots turns out to be a Secret Service agent, but the Norwegian government, with no stomach for creating an international incident that might embarrass a fervent ally, promotes Harry to Inspector and boots him over to the National Security Service to keep him out of trouble. Thanks to his new posting, Harry, without at first knowing it, becomes the man most likely to foil a second assassination—this one terribly real and steeped in a series of betrayals that go back to World War II. Some of the intrigue in the dizzying series of cuts between past and present is ham-handed, and the shadowy figure variously known as Uriah (in 1944) and the Prince (in 1999) may tax some readers’ patience. But it’s well worth sticking with the story; both the hero and the villain are as compelling as the portrayal of Norwegians doing whatever it takes to survive the war and then paying the price.
Nesbø bids fair to turn Norway into serious competition for Sweden as Scandinavia’s crime center.