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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

King of scandi noir

Knife: (Harry Hole 12) - Jo Nesbo

Ok let's be honest Harry Hole is a cliche detective, and there are many similarities between him and Ian Rankin's great creation Rebus. They both like working outside the law, they are happy to use unconventional methods to achieve results. Alcohol and cigarettes fuel their ambition, and the odd female liaison allows them a place of sanctuary where their wounded egos can be massaged. Rebus of course is now retired ( well not really) and he is some 17 years Harry’s senior. But we as readers of crime fiction love them, we forgive them their foibles knowing that their astute ability to catch the “baddies” will always make them heroes in our eyes!


Knife is an edge of the seat thriller and it may be some 600+ pages long (paperback) but every reading minute is pure pleasure. Harry’s old criminal rival Svein Finne is once more back on his patch and seeking revenge for the detective who incarcerated him. Young women are being raped and Finne is high on the list of suspects. However one chilling moment at the start, a brilliant piece of writing by Nesbo, changes the direction of the story, and sends Harry once again into deep sorrow and depression ably helped by his always on hand, good friend Jim Beam. To say much more about the plot would spoil the pleasure that awaits you, dear reader. There are many red herrings, and false leads as Nesbo plays with you, giving you a false sense of satisfaction only to slap you in the face when you realize that the person you suspected is nothing more than an innocent bystander.

The writing is taut, using few words but always adding a sense of sadness and drama and possibly a little humour……..

“Harry had been happy. But happiness is like heroin; once you've tasted it, once you’ve found out that happiness exists, you will never be entirely happy with an ordinary life without happiness again”.......

“ For every cigarette you smoke, God takes an hour away from you...and gives it to Keith Richards”....

“Of course. Imagine that you feel like killing someone, but can’t make yourself do it. So you need help. From fate. And if the dice tells you to kill, fate bears the responsibility; it liberates you and your free will. Do you see? All it takes is a throw of the dice”....

“Then it was as if Harry’s smile suddenly shattered, like the morning ice in October, and Bjorn found himself looking into the black depths of desperate pain again. As if Harry had merely wanted to taste happiness. And had spat it out again.”.....


Wonderful storytelling from the true king of Scandi crime noir. Highly, highly recommended.