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by Jo Nesbø and Don Bartlett, trans.
Random House, September 2013
$24.95 CAD
ISBN: 0345813200

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A wave of police murders is sweeping through Oslo. All the victims had been police involved in unsolved cases and now one by one they are being gruesomely murdered on the site of the earlier crime and on the date it first took place. Gunnar Hagen, Harry Hole's ex-boss, reunites some of Harry's friends to form a small task force to deal with these crimes. Harry is not there in person and his absence is strongly felt and he is missed. But where is he? It will take over one hundred pages to find out. POLICE picks up after PHANTOM and in order for the book to stand on its own, it takes that long to establish the situation and reconnect with all the previous players and new characters. Once Hole makes an appearance, things develop at a much faster pace. thrilling moments rapidly succeeding one another.

As usual with Nesbø, the book is not a light beach read. The plots – as in real life there are more than one – are complex and multicolored. Each character is well-defined with several sometimes contradictory aspects to their character, both positive and negative, including Harry Hole. They are not merely described to fit their job titles but are real people with professional and personal motivations. You can never take anything for granted as the stories unfold and you will be led astray more than once. The interactions and motives are never clichéd, especially those concerning the police hierarchy, making all the characters' actions quite believable. The tension is relentless and the body count is high and often emotional when a sympathetic character is killed.

Nothing is black and white, including the solution and the ending of the book which opens the door to more problems in the future. This, and Nesbø's skill as a writer, makes reading this mystery immensely satisfying. You have to invest yourself actively in the reading but the rewards are high.

If you have never met Harry Hole or if you haven't read PHANTOM first, I urge potential readers to do so. Although I have read several books in the series, I had not yet gotten around to PHANTOM. It makes the reading of POLICE more difficult and rather spoils PHANTOM for an eventual reading. I will do so however and crave more Hole books, despite this minor warning. Getting to know Hole and Nesbø's writing is definitely worth the effort.

§ Nicole Leclerc is a native Montrealer, avid reader, long time reviewer and moderator of the 4MA online discussion group.

Reviewed by Nicole Leclerc, February 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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